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East Swindon | February 21, 2018

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Wind Turbines, Diabetes, Childhood Obesity and Committee work

Wind Turbines, Diabetes, Childhood Obesity and Committee work
Dale Heenan
  • On August 1, 2011
The summer is always a time when people are more interested in families and holidays with politics taking a back seat, and the same applies to the local Borough Council. So instead of writing about local issues, I have focused this months article more on some of the work of the last couple of months. As always there is a lot more going on, certainly more than you might expect but I hope this gives you a flavour for what a Councillor gets involved with.


Development / Wind Turbines
I am into my fourth year as Chairman of the Planning Committee and we always fully debate any major or controversial applications from developers. June, July and August are providing to be very controversial this year! June saw plans for 890 houses near Coate discussed (refused), July was the three 180m high Wind Turbines by Ecotricity at Honda. Over 396 people attended the Council offices to listen to the debate, far in excess of the capacity and quite unprecedented attendance. This shows the depth of feeling that local residents have for the scheme, and you have to go back to the days of the poll tax in the 1980s for a similar attendance!


As I write this article, the current plan is to hire the Wyvern theatre from 6pm on Thursday 8th September. If you plan to attend please remember to be considerate and quiet towards all speakers. There will be lots of residents present and Honda are one of the biggest employers in the town. I will be very firm and fair in chairing the meeting, however I won’t be tolerating any inappropiate behaviour.


Diabetes Taskgroup
My other Committee this year is Health Scrutiny. I will be chairing a taskgroup looking at the issue of Diabetes in Swindon, the differences between type 1 and type 2, the provision of existing services and their effectiveness but also finding out from local GPs and residents their expierences. Discussions will also take place with academics on the latest research, identify findings from around the country and the world and make a number of recommendations.  I have a very clear view of what I would like the taskgroup to do over the next six months, but I would be very interested in hearing from any resident who is, or whose family is, affected by Diabetes for any thoughts they would like to make, and what would you like to see changed / improved?


Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity was the topic of discussion at July’s meeting. We all know that a broad range of social and individual factors contribute to this problem, but the mains reason are ofcourse the increasing consumption of high fat, high sugar foods, and the reduced levels of physical activity.  Eating healthily is becoming increasingly more expensive than eating unhealthy convenience foods, and its often said that home-cooking is a dying art. The strategy for tackling obesity must be family/community based (diet, physical activity and behaviour change).
Some of the suggestions that I have put forward include setting up an inter-school competition ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, adopting a policy of refusing planning permission for takeaways within a quarter of a mile of school premises and looking at what other councils are doing on the issue – this has been dealt with by Councils all over so instead of reinventing the wheel…. For example, Liverpool city are investigating a bye law to ban toys from fast food meals.


And finally…  Personally, I’d like to see SBC approach someone like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from River Cottage and ask him for his ideas and to work with Schools in the local area. Jamie Oliver has his Jamies kitchen so why couldn’t we have a River Cottage cafe in the town centre? There is one in Devon, where Hugh is based, and one in Bath. I think this would be a great way to raise awareness and also be a talking point for the town.


Town Centre Regeneration / Inward Investment / Mechanics
Emma and Richard are involved with the Economic, Environmental and Sustainability Committee, a bit of a mouth full. They will be looking in detail at town centre regeneration, with a meeting to be held over the sumemr with representatives from the business community to give their views.  Representatives involved in regeneration projects in other towns were also to be invited, and a progress update on all regeneration projects in Swindon with any recommendations to be submitted to Cabinet. As Chairman of the Planning Committee, I will be writing to the developers of the old Swindon College site and demanding to know when work to demolish this eyesore starts.


Other topics include Inward Investment, the local Transport Plan, Climate Change and environmental performance of the Council, Recycling across the town and how to deal with the Mechanics Institute.


Unadopted drains and sewers
Across Coleview, Covingham and Nythe there are a number of drains and pipes that were never adopted by the water companies 20/30 years ago. This has meant that if there is a blockage or leak between your house and the main sewer in the road, residents often have to foot the bill for repair.
Following the general election last May I asked the new MP, Justin Tomlinson, to raise this in Parliament and he helpfully asked the right questions. I chased this up last month and I am pleased to say that the Government is changing the law.
From the 1st October 2011, all drains and sewers will be the responsbility of Thames Water. It will no longer be the case that local residents who expierence a problem face a repair bill. I am sure all residents will be pleased with this news. This change should also mean that over time Thames Water improves the drainage in the area and help tackle the issue of future flooding.
I have spoken with Thames Water, and letters will be sent to local residents during August and September highlighting this change and what it means.
Case Work in August
Richard, Emma and I will be doing case work as normal in August but we may be on holiday. We have agreed that two of us will always be around so if you have any problems that we can help with, please make sure you email atleast two of us., or Ofcourse residents are encouraged to ring us as well, but if you don’t hear back from someone after a couple of days please call someone else.

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