No price on democratic rights

May 22, 2017

A letter to the Swindon Advertiser

What exactly does InSwindon think it is? The town centre’s political police? They don’t appear to even know what is on their own website. Under the page ‘for Business’ it refers to charges for leaflet distribution under two pieces of legislation, the 1990 Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. However, it states quite clearly that “The legislation does not apply to the distribution of free literature

  • By or on behalf of a charity…

  • Where the distribution is for political purposes

  • Where the distribution is for the purpose of a religion or belief.”

Material distributed by a campaigning organisation such as Keep Our NHS Public certainly qualifies as “distribution for political purposes”. So why is InSwindon harassing this organisation? Read the rest of this entry »

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Paying more for worse services

March 20, 2017

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

Paying more for worse services

I’ve just received my council tax notice with a 10.9% increase for 2017/18. As Mr Renard finally admitted in his column residents are paying more for less. These very high increases are the result of the flagrantly anti-democratic imposition of parishes on residents who patently did not want them. Even if it is legal for the council to charge us for services which they no longer provide it is politically and morally repugnant, and it certainly ought to be illegal.

This policy chimes well with central government’s gutting of public services. The decision to impose parishes has the impact of moving away from the concept of equalisation of services across the town regardless of the poverty or wealth of individual areas. What Mr Renard is presenting as ‘choice’ is bogus. If services are not provided by taxation at the town level then you can only chose what you can afford. His regime’s action will exacerbate inequalities across the town. Read the rest of this entry »


Disenfranchising the electors of Eldene & Liden

January 6, 2017

Swindon Council is ruled by anti-democratic clique. They have imposed new parish councils on non-parished areas without any democratic mandate whatsoever and against considerable opposition. They have set a ridiculous deadline with the new parishes having to agree a precept by the end of January. The borough councillors in these areas were presented with a dilemma; to become shadow parish councillors and to set the first precept for parishes which they opposed setting up in the absence of a democratic mandate, or else the Tories would have imposed their placemen/women to set a precept. This is bad enough but in Nythe the situation is even worse, In the two areas with which it will be amalgamated, the electors of Eldene and Liden will even be denied the right to be represented by their elected Borough councillors as others will.

When the October 19th Cabinet passed a document relating to the changes, it said it would “Agree to the recommendations set out in Appendix 5”. This Appendix referred to “the new parish” which would comprise Nythe, plus Eldene and Liden. The “new parish” would be divided into two wards, with 7 parish councillors in Nythe, and 8 in Eldene and Liden. Read the rest of this entry »


Park Library petition – Catch 22 Swindon style

November 5, 2016

Swindon Council has refused to table Parks and East Walcot Community Forum’s petition for discussion at the November council meeting. The petition, which has more than 1,100 signatures, calls on the council to amend their proposal to include Park Library in the core provision of the new Library service. Both the committees section and the Lead Member were told that we wanted the petition discussed at the November meeting. We also informed the Lead Member that we intended to put in a copy to the consultation as well. We did not receive the courtesy of a reply from her.

The head of the so-called Democratic Services has refused to take the petition at the November meeting on the grounds that we gave a copy of the petition into the Libraries consultation together with our submission. What sense would it have made not to let them know more than 1,100 people were supporting our suggested amendment to their proposals, and have it recorded in their report? Read the rest of this entry »


An assault on local democracy

June 17, 2016

According to the report for this week’s Swindon Council Cabinet meeting “a high proportion of responses received expressed opposition to the parishing of non-parished areas”. In contrast there were “a number of submissions” supporting it? What number? We are not told. It’s typical of this administration that they neglect to report the results of the consultation in any detail. How many were in favour, how many against? The weight of opinion against them is somewhat inconvenient when they want to push ahead regardless of the results of the consultation.

Yet they have no democratic mandate for their proposal. At the recent election, over the whole town, the Conservative Party gained less votes than the opposition. Mr Renard may contest that the parishing issue was a factor in the loss of two seats, but the electorate was clearly not enthused by their concept of “empowering” local people by imposing parishes on them regardless of their opinion. Read the rest of this entry »


Parishes proposal: the electors must decide

November 20, 2015

This is written on behalf of Parks & East Walcot Community Forum, of which I am the Secretary.

Yesterday Parks & East Walcot Community Forum discussed the Community Governance Review being launched by Swindon Borough Council – the proposal to devolve some of its services to new parish Councils in the main body of the town (covering roughly 97,000 electors) where none currently exist.

It was agreed that the Forum would oppose introducing new parishes and call for a referendum of the non-parished areas on whether or not they should be set up.

The Forum felt strongly that such a significant reorganisation of local government in the town should not be a decision for a few dozen Councillors. The imposition of new parishes where no mandate exists would be completely undemocratic. Read the rest of this entry »


Swindon Council to ’empower’ local people by denying them power to decide on parishes

November 13, 2015

At the Council meeting yesterday I asked a couple of questions on the Community Governance Review which will consider whether to introduce parishes into all the non-parishes areas of the town.

Question 1: “Will the administration make a commitment that no area of the town, which currently does not have a parish, will have one imposed on them without their residents being able to vote for or against the creation of a new parish?”

Answer : “Thank you for your question. The law makes no provision for holding such a referendum. If Full Council resolves to undertake a Community Governance review tonight, then the local authority will follow the process set down by law and government guidance.”

It may be true that ‘the law’ under which a Community Governance Review takes place says nothing about a referendum. Yet there is nothing to stop the Council organising a ballot of the non-parished areas, either together or singularly. The fact is that they do not want to commit to one because they fear that they would lose it. Read the rest of this entry »


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