SWINDON is punching below its weight, according to the new chief executive of the economic development company, Forward Swindon.

Karen Walker has spoken publicly for the first time about plans to regenerate the town over the next ten years.

She gave a presentation to the town’s councillors at a meeting of the Economic, Environmental and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

She said: “The bottom line is you’re punching below your weight big time.

“We need to agree what we want to be and go and get it.

“You have not got a failing town centre but you need to support it. It’s not just about exciting shops, it’s about creating an exciting place.

“Swindon is well placed to create this new model for the future.

“You’ve got the station right on your doorstep but when you step out on to that forecourt you have no idea where your town centre is.”

Swindon has a retail ranking of 65, out of the 330 retail centres in the UK, lower than Bristol, Bath and Reading and has it dropped ten places in the last three years.

Forward Swindon proposed to give the town centre a face-lift by removing all boardings from shop fronts and replacing wasted space with green areas.

It also aims to unite all the areas of Swindon from Old Town to the Designer Outlet.

“We need to make sure that we work as a town, not as three distinct parts,” Karen said.

Coun Mark Dempsey, the ward councillor for the Parks, said: “Sometimes Swindon chases projects to chase projects without there being a long-term strategy.

“The history of Swindon is of replacing a lack of quality and bad architecture with more buildings that have a lack of quality and bad architecture.

“There is a need to develop the longer term vision of Swindon so that we don’t put up more white elephants that we take down in ten years time.”

The committee will meet again on September 9.

Forward Swindon replaced the New Swindon Company after it was wound down last year.