MONEY-SAVING proposals put forward by the town’s Labour party have been branded as ‘irresponsible’ by the Conservatives.

A proposal going before Swindon Council later this month, tabled by Labour, will argue that the company tasked with driving forward the regeneration of the town – Forward Swindon – should be scrapped.

It also sets out cuts to various council departments, such as slashing £2.1m from the staff travel, subsistence, mileage and conference budget; £1.7m from senior management; £400,000 from communications and £110,000 from membership costs to outside bodies.

The savings would be used to mitigate the effect of the council’s cuts on the vulnerable and poor, Labour said.

The motion, tabled by Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Western), says in light of the ‘continued failure’ of Forward Swindon and its predecessor the New Swindon Company, it should be brought under the direct management of the council.

But council leader Coun Rod Bluh said the proposals were unrealistic and politically motivated.

“This is not what’s good for Swindon or the residents of Swindon, and it is only being done for political advantage by the Labour party,” he said.

“Abolishing Forward Swindon ranks as one of the most irresponsible things yet. At a time when regeneration is beginning to come back to life and investors are showing interest, the opposition wishes to send out a message that they want to bring it in house. What message is that sending out to the market?”

Coun Bluh said major schemes were about to kick off and the old schemes only floundered because the economy stalled.

He added Forward Swindon was a vital tool for promoting the town to potential investors, many of whom preferred to deal with the private sector rather than the council directly.

The proposals also says the council could save £3,000 by taking back office space it lets wi-fi company Digital City use for free.

But Coun Bluh said this was ‘unlettable’ office space so it would not save the council anything. He said: “They have listed lots of things they think sound good in the public domain without any strategy or business plan behind it.

“They want to tell all staff that they should have no mileage rates, but this is an organisation of thousands of people so there is always going to be an expense. This is old politics and it delivers nothing.”

Labour group leader Coun Derique Montaut said, as a member of the public, he was concerned that the leader of the council was “being so hostile to some sensible suggestions”. He added that he was not suggesting completely cutting services but thought savings could still be found in some departments.

He said: “With regard to Forward Swindon, the leader of the council talks about not sending the wrong message to the markets, but what about not sending the wrong message to the average council tax payer who is currently funding Forward Swindon to the tune of £760,000 per year, whilst also getting less say in how their town is regenerated?”