March Monthly Report
Hello to all local residents.
February is an important month for the Council, it’s budget setting
time! Again, we have aimed for an
inflationary increase, which has resulted in an increase of 3.5%. We always aim for a fair and affordable budget, but this has been
the toughest year yet because of the impact of the recession in the
last few months and frankly woeful funding from the Labour Government.
For all of our Labour MP’s hot air about funding doubling under Labour,
this year’s settlement from them shows what nonsense this is. The average
Council received an increase of 4% in their budget, Swindon received
just 1.4%. The council will not impose extra burden on hard working
residents, but we are in a hole as a direct result of this government.
One point I discovered when
asking questions on the budget was the fact that the Government is increasing
landfill taxes to such an extent that it costs the Council an extra
Â£300,000 a year, if we weren’t recycling nearly 50% of household waste
this figure would be even higher! Despite Gordon Brown stating this
money would be returned to Councilâs to fund other improvements, in
reality this Labour Government has used Landfill Tax as nothing more
than a stealth Tax. Since 2003, the Council has had to pay over
Â£6.8million in this Tax, and received just
Â£1.3 million back. In effect this tax has been dressed up as an
âenvironmentalâ tax and cost local residents
Â£5.5million. One view is that this sum is singlehandedly responsible
the difficulties we face as a Council. This amount could reduce Council
Tax by atleast 10%. While we are all trying our best in these difficult
times, this attitude towards Swindon by the Labour Government towards
local residents is an utter disgrace.
When we go canvassing and talk
to residents, a common question is when are we going to reduce the number
of employees, there must be lot’s of non-jobs etc. Just like in previous
years, positions are being removed and this time it is in the region
of 90 people being made redundant.
If residents have any questions
on the budget, please ask Phil, Glenn or I.
As Councillors we are constantly
being pulled in various directions, and as we go on my workload has
increased dramatically. With this increased work, it has been necessary
to step down from an active role as a Governor at Dorcan School. I was
on the Premises Committee and Chairman of the Curriculum Committee.
After talking with the School, I will remain an Associate Governor so
we can maintain close contact. I have also chased up the Education department
this month on the progress made on the Government bid for funds to rebuild
and refurbish the school.
One of the additions to my
Council workload is sitting on the
a Cabinet Advisory group about StreetSmart, this is an initiative to
improve the way the Council operates. The test is if you walk out of
your garden gate (imaginary for most of us), then until you walk back
into another gate it is this groups responsibility. It covers all areas
of SBC classed as revenue so litter collection, Highways Maintenance
of footpaths / potholes etc. I’m still trying to get road resurfacing
included but it’s capital spending! The other Advisory group is on Enforcement,
reviewing what powers the Council has available and applying some common
sense in what happens.
Over the summer, I will taking
on the work which will form the next set of Swindon 50 promises. Please
let me know what key priorities you believe the Council should have
over the next 5 years! Lot’s more on this in future months.
Glenn has been working on ideas
to improve Nythe with the s106 money the Borough Council received from
the Brown Brothers Development. Please send your suggestions for Nythe
direct to Glenn, even if it’s small points such as adding trees and
You may have seen that a public
enquiry is currently going on about Coate Water, a rumour is going around
about the Oakfield site and that the fields between this building and
Dorcan Way are to be sold off and built on. As Chairman of the Planning
Committee I can confidently say this is nonsense, there are no such
talks going on or even considered. As your ward Councillors, Phil, Glenn
and I would not idly stand by and let that happen.
Phil has been receiving calls
about AntiSocial Behaviour and the way the recession has been affecting
local businesses such as Honda. Phil is Cabinet Member with responsibility
for Economic Development, probably one of the more difficult portfolio’s
right now. Apparently Swindon has gone from being one of areas with
the lowest unemployment rates in the Country, to switching to an areas
that has the fastest growing unemployment! Should you face a problem
with unemployment the Council has a number of services to support you,
particularly around Housing advice.
As is always the case, we have
run out of space in this article. Please do contact Phil, Glenn
and I if you have any problem, concern or question in the local area,
or written here.