Political reporter Daniel Knowles takes a look at some of the main local issues in next week's council elections starting with the regeneration of the town centre

REGENERATION has become one of the buzzwords of council politics in Swindon.

Each party has jockeyed to claim credit for the latest step forward.

Among the most significant moves have been the setting up of the New Swindon Company and the pulling down of tired, ugly buildings like the central police station and the Thamesdown Transport bus depot.

The two biggest parties in the council the ruling Conservative administration and the Labour opposition both say they have the best plans to take the town forward.

The Liberal Democrats and Greens say they are the ones closest to the people and their wishes. But what do they all stand for?

The Conservative's cabinet member for regeneration Roderick Bluh said the party could prove it was doing things to improve the town.

He said the Conservatives had pushed through plans to finally get a permanent library for the town after more than 50 years of wrangling.

Building is to start in June.

If the party holds onto power following the election on May 4, the plan for the Granville Street car park redevelopment will be released by the middle of next month.

Also among what Coun Bluh says are triumphs for the Conservatives are getting a reconstructed Baptist Tabernacle included in the plans and at no cost to taxpayers.

The Labour opposition's manifesto commits it to delivering a "landmark" central library for the borough and keep plans to develop a 6,000sq ft site for residents.

The manifesto also includes a new cultural quarter, which leader Kevin Small says will drive the town's regeneration.

Coun Small said Labour also wanted a new art gallery so Swindon's world-renowned art collection could be put on public display.

The Green Party's Swindon chairman Bill Hughes said the party supported regenerating the town centre but warned against repeating the mistakes of the past.

"We don't want to see redevelopment with the same old glass and concrete tower blocks," Mr Hughes said.

"We need to make sure there are lots of green and old spaces.

"If it's just in the hands of developers anything can happen."

Mr Hughes said the town lacked facilities.

"There's no really large civic buildings," Mr Hughes said. He added the Greens were keen to see the former town hall returned to civic use.

Liberal Democrats deputy leader Stan Pajak said all parties supported improving the town centre but it could not come at the expense of open space.

"Swindon has fallen behind all of its competitors," Coun Pajak said.

"Bath and Reading have all regenerated and Swindon has fallen badly behind.

"But we have to not give up our green heritage. We would try to maintain our green heritage. We all support having attractive stores in town."