LABOUR politicians have slammed comments by Swindon’s Conservative parliamentary candidates over having a university in the town.

Robert Buckland and Coun Justin Tomlinson – prospective Conservative candidates for South and North Swindon – spoke out in the Adver last week about their concerns over the bid by the University of the West of England to build a university at Coate.

Mr Buckland described the UWE proposal as “the wrong plan at the wrong time”, while Coun Tomlinson expressed his concerns over the effect a university would have on affordable housing.

Anne Snelgrove, South Swindon MP, said: “Mr Buckland is talking down Swindon and reveals his lack of belief in the town. I believe a university in Swindon would put the town on the map for young people and would breathe new life into the area along with the regeneration that is already happening.

“I suggest that Mr Buckland spends a little more time being positive about Swindon rather than being negative about a great project. If Mr Buckland looks at the benefits a university has brought to Swansea, near his home in South Wales, surely he would want similar things for Swindon?

“Coun Tomlinson bizarrely believes that a university would make businesses leave Swindon. The impact of a university on a town, such as the new universities in Plymouth, Portsmouth and Worcester, shows that a university brings new investment and attracts business.”

At a scrutiny meeting Labour councillors also criticised the two prospective MPs, while applauding the council’s decision to push for the university to be cited at North Star.

Labour leader Kevin Small said he was disappointed by the comments, while Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Western) said they could have very damaging effects on those deciding the site of the university.

He said: “The people behind the university development must think – these two guys could be in charge in the future so why should we come to Swindon if we’re not wanted?

“I think what they have said is a disaster for Swindon.”

Council leader Rod Bluh said: “This administration’s policy is quite clear – we are doing everything we can to deliver a university to Swindon, and we will do whatever we can to make sure it is a town centre site.”