Both Blunsdon and Highworth are feeling the effects of development and expansion – and many living in the area are fearing more. 

Developers have been very active in this ward – attracted by good links into Swindon. This is particularly true of Blunsdon, where several parcels of land just to the north of the main route into town via the Coldharbour junction have had applications for housing development lodged or approved. 

Further away in Highworth, housebuilders are also keen to add developments to greenfield sites. 

Many residents and the town council fear this will erode Highworth's status as a separate entity distinct from Swindon. 

Conservative councillor Maureen Penny is stepping down at this election after nine years representing the ward.

As a member of the cabinet, she made her opposition known to the council’s draft local plan proposals which would see Highworth allocated land for 500 more houses. That plan is now out for public consultation. 

Until the reorganisation of wards in 2012 Blunsdon and Highworth were two separate wards – both solidly Conservative going back to the turn of the century and beyond. 

Nine years ago they were merged with Highworth, giving up South Marston to the newly-created St Margaret and South Marston. 

It is the largest ward in the council’s area and on electoral maps has presented a solid blue block at the very north of the borough. 

In 2012, when all three seats were contested, Coun Penny won with a 45 per cent vote shares, and since them she and her party colleagues have gone on to increase that, with the last three elections seeing Tories win with 47, 56 and 52 per cent vote shares. 

The fortitude and resilience of Green candidate Andrew Day should be mentioned. It will be the seventh time he has stood for the party in this ward, going back to its creation in 2012, and he has never got close to winning a seat. 

The loss of a long-serving and well-known councillor in Coun Penny can sometimes have an effect. The participation of an independent on a platform about the biggest issue we’ve all had to face in the last two years is also a factor, but the form guide suggests a hold for the Conservatives is the most likely outcome – allowing new candidate Vijay Manro to join his son Vinay, who represents Haydon Wick, in the council chamber.

Meet the candidates:

Keir Baynham (Labour)

"Highworth has been my home for almost 17 years, since moving there at a young age. 
"I have played an active part in the community which has put me in contact with fellow residents and being local means I’m affected by the same issues as the people I seek to represent. 

"This Conservative council has let down families in our community, firstly by not adequately supporting our local schools; which helped me as a child from a low-income single parent family, to become the first in my family to attend university. It has also demolished our local youth centre and closed the newly created Surestart. 

"We need local councillors who will stand up and protect Blunsdon and Highworth, and oppose the continuous overdevelopment of our communities which are changing their character forever. 

"If elected I will put the interest of Blunsdon and Highworth before the wishes of big businesses and property developers."

Andrew Day (Green) 

"Highworth has been home for me and my partner Linda for nearly 25 years. 

"There is much to celebrate in our town – a variety of successful local shops and businesses, some very talented and creative people, and much goodwill and resolve when problems arise. 

"However, I’m sorry to see hundreds of new houses being built that fail to meet the highest standards of insulation that a Green borough council would insist upon. Furthermore, many of the new housing developments rely upon existing roads that are already overused, yet I see no sign of improvements to either the road network or local public transport provision. 

"We deserve better. As a local candidate, I shall endeavour to safeguard all that is good in Blunsdon & Highworth and seek to introduce improvements where needed."
Michael Heal (Lib Dem)

"As your candidate for Blunsdon & Highworth I’m committed to representing you.
"The Liberal Democrats are focussed in this election on achieving goals that are relevant to all residents in Swindon. 

"We want to help Swindon recover from the pandemic and do so to create something better than what came before. We need to reinvest in our schools and educational system to provide both vocational and further educational opportunities for young people. 

"We must also ensure that residents of Swindon have adequate leisure facilities and healthcare for years to come. In light of this, investment is key, both by the council and private enterprise. 

"I hope you consider voting for a fairer and more prosperous Swindon on May 6 and entrust me with your vote."
Tara Hurst (Independent)

"I am Tara, a married mother of two; I work at Green Sky in Chiseldon as a personal assistant. I live in Tadpole Garden Village, West Swindon and am standing to represent Blunsdon.

"Seeing the way that children are being raised in fear, I decided I needed to play an active role for people who don’t have a voice.

"Our freedoms are slowly being removed. I believe in fair and equal rights for everybody. I am dedicated to making changes to benefit those who need it most.  

"No to mandatory vaccinations. 

"No to Vaccine Passports. 

"Yes to opening businesses."
Vijay Manro (Conservative)

"If elected, I will always be a strong voice in the council chamber for the benefit of Blunsdon, Highworth and our rural villages, working alongside Justin Tomlinson MP and councillors Alan Bishop and Steve Weisinger.

"I am a qualified civil engineer with substantial experience in public services. I have managed development projects such as shopping malls, Ikea, housing, bus priority schemes and carbon emission reduction schemes. 

"I am a board member at Healthwatch Wiltshire, ensuring any concerns from the residents are communicated to service providers.

"I will use my experience to be a strong voice on planning and development issues, opposing inappropriate development and ensuring any new developments are in keeping with our areas, with sufficient local investment.

"I will champion our local community groups, sports clubs, charities and community events. Road safety, the local environment, local schools, parks and open spaces will all be a priority for me."