Author: Highworth Town Council

Swindon Borough Council: Preparing for Adulthood – Transitions Roadshow

@SwindonBoroughCouncil is hosting its fourth Preparing for Adulthood Transitions Roadshow on Wednesday 19 June at the Civic Offices from 12 – 5pm. Around 40 stallholders will be there to offer advice to parents, carers and professionals who support young people with additional needs to help them plan for their future. If you’d like to find out more, please visit: bit.ly/2QPzMAj .

Do you support a young person with additional needs? The Preparing for Adulthood Transitions Roadshow will be held @SwindonBoroughCouncil Civic Offices from 12 – 5pm on Wednesday 19 June which will see around 40 stallholders offering advice to help young people plan for their future. Find out more: bit.ly/2QPzMAj .

 

Extra reminders to help people keep up to date with their council tax

30 May 2019
 

Extra reminders to help people keep up to date with their council tax

 

Voicemail and email reminders are the latest measures being introduced by Swindon Borough Council to help people keep on top of their council tax.

The Council will roll out the new system later this summer and the email and voicemail messages to phones will supplement the text reminders that have been in place for the last few years.

It is hoped the additional reminders will increase the Council’s council tax collection rate, reduce the printing of paper reminders and, ultimately, reduce the need to take recovery proceedings.

In Swindon, council tax collections rates are among the highest in the country remaining above 98 per cent over the last six years.

In order to reduce the use of enforcement agents, the Council calls residents prior to undertaking recovery proceedings for non-payment. Those contacted are requested to make payment of part or all of the arrears or, if unable to, are offered a revised payment arrangement.

Phone calls and an increased use of text reminders to mobile phones helped to cut the number of summonses issued by 25 per cent over the past six years.

The email reminders will also include information about how to get personal budgeting and debt advice.

Councillor Russell Holland, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Education and Skills, said: “We want to treat everyone fairly when it comes to the collection of council tax. If anyone is having any problems paying their council tax it is really important that they contact the Council urgently so that we can see what we can do to help. The best way to contact the Council is by calling 03453 022 316 or emailing swindon.counciltax@secure.capita.co.uk

“We are also keen to help people who may be in debt or struggling financially and work closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Christians Against Poverty, the local credit unions and other organisations who can provide help.

“We have found that some people who were struggling financially were eligible for benefits and with some help getting those benefits they were able to get on top of their debts. It’s really important to get help from a legitimate organisation. I’m sad to say that there are loan sharks who target people in Swindon and anyone who thinks they may be a victim of a loan shark can also get help by contacting Stop Loan Sharks on 0300 555 2222.”

ENDS

 

Media contact: Kevin Burchall, Communications Lead – Media Relations, Swindon Borough Council, 01793 463105.

Town Meeting

Thursday 9 May 2019

 

HIGHWORTH TOWN COUNCIL is obliged to offer residents the facility for holding a TOWN MEETING. If any resident wishes to arrange such a meeting they should contact the Clerk with a date and time for a meeting. Having been approached, the Clerk will offer a venue in the Council Offices. Ideally, the meeting will provide its own Chairman and Minute Taker. If one cannot be found, the Clerk will approach the Chair of the Council to Chair it. Further advice can be provided by the Clerk on application.

Please be aware that the evening of 14 May 2019 is not available as there will be Councillor Training on that evening.

 

 

D. C. LANE
TOWN CLERK

 

 

 

 

Borough Council Election Results

Blunsdon & Highworth

Name of candidate Party Number of votes:

BISHOP, Alan John Conservative Party                 1,654
COPE, Jaime Louise Labour Party                         756
DAY, Andrew Donald Green Party                          453
SALMON, Malcolm Charles Liberal Democrat       312
Number of ballot papers rejected:                          86

Total votes cast: 3,266
Electorate: 8,657
Turnout: 37.73%

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Council to crackdown on fly tippers

 

Fly tippers beware – Swindon Borough Council will this year be stepping up enforcement activity to catch people illegally dumping waste.

 

The renewed focus on tackling fly tipping is part of the Council’s promise to ensure the streets are kept clean and safe for residents.

 

Last year, the Council received 1,726 reports of fly tipping from members of the public. But it is often difficult to prosecute the culprits due to the ability in many cases to identify them.

 

The Council’s EnviroCrime team has, however, had some success in identifying suspected offenders and obtaining clear ups by residents, which has resulted in fly tipping being removed without prosecutions taking place.

 

Limited evidence means that residential clear ups are often more appropriate solutions than court action and they result in the waste being removed without additional cost to the Council.

 

This year, however, the Council will be stepping up its enforcement activity in known fly tipping hotspots with the aim of securing prosecutions, if appropriate. In support of this, there will be an increase in the size of the Council’s EnviroCrime Team so that more staff are available to tackle the problem.

 

There will also be an anti-fly tipping campaign that aims to inform residents about how to dispose of waste in a responsible way.

 

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and the Environment, said: “We respond to all incidents of fly tipping that are reported to us, but in order to prosecute we need to have the appropriate evidence.

 

“It is notoriously difficult to prosecute people for fly tipping because it can be very hard to identify those responsible, which is also the case when seeking to issue cautions and Fixed Penalty Notices.

 

“But it is important that people know that this year we will be making extra efforts to tackle fly tipping and prosecuting the offenders where we can.”

 

If residents have household waste which cannot be appropriately disposed of through the normal local authority waste collection service, they can check if the Household Waste and Recycling Centre at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate accepts the waste and take it there themselves.

 

They can also use the Council’s bulky waste collection service or a private business that provides a waste collection service.

 

To report incidents of fly tipping, log on to: https://bit.ly/2nvzaE3.

Swindon awarded funding to tackle mental health stigma

Swindon has been selected to tackle the stigma of mental health locally after applying to become a Time to Change Hub.

Time to Change Swindon will join over 40 Hubs across England to help change the way people think and act about mental health problems.

Made up of Swindon Borough Council, Age UK, AWP, Phoenix Enterprises, IPSUM, Swindon & Gloucestershire Mind, Swindon STEP, Stratton Parish Council, The Olive Tree Cafe and local champions, the Hub will combine the insights of the national Time to Change campaign with local knowledge. They will support communities, workplaces and schools to take action to end negative attitudes and behaviours towards people experiencing mental health problems in their communities.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Mental Health Champion, said: “I’m delighted that Swindon has become a Time to Change Hub. We’ll be working with many local providers to highlight the support available in the town to make sure we’re all looking after our mental health, in the same way we look after our physical health.”

Time to Change, the national campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, launched its first regional Hubs in March 2017.  The announcement of eight further funded Hubs, including Swindon, is part of the campaign’s three-year plan to establish a network of Hubs across England to provide a focus for local campaigning work.

Since their initial launch, Time to Change Hubs have successfully campaigned to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Their work has ranged from stopping a stigmatising theatre show ‘Psycho Asylum’ from touring the country to supporting Time to Talk Day (7 February 2019), running events and delivering campaigns aimed at improving understanding and respect for people living with a mental health problem.

Jo Loughran, Director at Time to Change, said: “When one in four of us will fight a mental health problem in any given year and suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 40, it’s vital that we come together to end mental health stigma. Our network of Time to Change Hubs are able to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in their community.”

Picture: partners in the Swindon Time to Change Hub met yesterday at Swindon Borough Council’s Civic Offices

Council to make town centre car parks free on Sundays

Shoppers and businesses are set to benefit from a new Council policy which will see the introduction of free parking on Sundays.

From April, the Council’s town centre car parks will be free on Sundays. The aim is to help residents and businesses by ensuring that people get to enjoy one day a week where they do not have to pay to park.

In 2018, the Council invested £160,000 in its town centre car parks, ensuring they were safe and clean for everyone who uses them.

This programme of upgrades has now been extended to make the car parks free to use on Sundays to encourage more people to use the town centre at weekends.

The introduction of free parking on Sundays will be cost neutral. A small 10p per hour price increase, the smallest amount possible, from Monday through to Saturday will help cover the £390,000 cost of the free parking.

The policy will be rolled out in April and councillors have urged shoppers to take full advantage of the money saving scheme.

Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is great news for residents and businesses. To be able to park for free for a full day, especially at the weekend, will create new opportunities for everyone.

“We know that the rise of online shopping has posed a number of challenges for local businesses and we want to do as much as we possibly can to help them thrive. The free parking provision on Sundays will help to create an extra 52 days of trading for businesses, and I would encourage residents to take full advantage of it.”

The first free Sunday for the Council’s town centre car parks will be 7 April 2019.

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, said: “Free parking on Sundays is the big new town centre parking policy.

“I hope local residents and businesses use this opportunity to support our town centre, as we all wrestle with the challenge of online shopping and the changing high street.”

 

Expert advice available for budding family historians at Central Library

A team of experienced researchers will be on hand at Central Library to help people interested in tracing their family roots.

The free drop-in session, which is being run by volunteers from the Swindon branch of the Wiltshire Family History Society and Swindon Libraries, will take place next Monday (25 Feb) between 2pm and 4pm and is the latest in a series of family history workshops being held at the Regent Circus library.

Anyone is welcome to attend, from complete beginners inspired by the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? to more experienced genealogists who may appreciate a fresh perspective.

The volunteer researchers will help people trace the story of their ancestors with the help of the library’s Local Studies team.

There is no need to book and anyone interested in attending can pop along any time between 2pm and 4pm to the Local Studies section on Floor 2 of Central Library.

For more information contact Central Library on (01793) 463238 or email: localstudies@swindon.gov.uk.

 

Council publishes updated strategic land assessment

An updated list of sites which have the potential for development within Swindon has just been published.

The Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment 2019 (SHELAA) is now available on Swindon Borough Council’s website and will be used to help inform the preparation of the Council’s Local Plan Review. It can also be used by parishes to help produce their own Neighbourhood Plans.

The SHELAA only identifies sites with potential for future development and does not allocate sites to be developed.

Several sites were taken out of the original SHELAA list following feedback from local residents because they would constitute major development in an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) or would significantly impact on the urban green corridors and the quality of open space.

Local people were asked for their views on the SHELAA during a six-week consultation period at the end of last year. A total of more than 1,000 comments were made, while two petitions were also submitted to the Council.

The allocation of sites for future development will take place in the Local Plan review or in any locally produced Neighbourhood Plans.

Sites included in the SHELAA will not necessarily be granted planning permission and all applications will continue to be considered against national policies, the Council’s Development Plan and any other relevant material considerations.

Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this SHELAA process as it will play an important role in shaping our draft Local Plan in the summer.

“We listened to what local residents had to say and removed those sites where we felt potential development would have an adverse impact on green open spaces, green corridors and the AONB.

“Even though sites have been identified as part of the SHELAA, it does not mean the Council will grant planning permission for development on those sites as other planning and environmental policy considerations will also be taken into account.”

Members of the public can view the updated SHELAA list at: www.swindon.gov.uk/shelaa.

Any comments on the SHELAA will be considered in the draft Local Plan which is anticipated will go out to consultation in the summer.

Views sought for Swindon Borough Council’s plans to end rough sleeping

Members of the public are being encouraged to give their views on Swindon Borough Council’s ambitious plans to tackle rough sleeping.

 

The new draft Rough Sleeper Reduction Strategy sets out the Council’s vision and plans for reducing rough sleeping over the next three years.

 

The strategy focuses on three key areas: prevention, intervention and recovery, and seeks to ensure that nobody arrives on the street and that nobody returns to the street.

 

The priorities contained in the strategy include providing a rapid joined-up response to help people who are already sleeping rough, offering outreach services to people with complex health needs and developing a range of accommodation options tailored to meet individual needs.

 

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “We are committed to reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in Swindon and this strategy is an important tool for achieving that.

 

“From providing emergency accommodation to everyone who needs it to opening a new day care centre to provide services to homeless people, this Council already offers a lot of support to rough sleepers and this critical document acts as a public declaration that outlines our mission.

 

“I would urge people to submit comments before the deadline at the end of January and they will be taken into account before the strategy is finalised.”

 

To further help the Council achieve its aim of reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in Swindon, the authority will work closely with institutions such as prisons, young offender institutions, hospitals and the armed forces to ensure people have sustainable plans in place before they leave, and thus do not end up homeless.

 

Every year, the Council spends £1.4m providing support and accommodation to people experiencing housing difficulties.

 

In late 2018, the Council launched the Temporary Winter Housing Provision scheme which proved so successful last year. The programme sees an identified group of rough sleepers given accommodation and close personal support with the aim of getting them into permanent accommodation.

 

This year, the scheme comes with the opening of a new day centre, run by Swindon Night Shelter, which provides vital support services to rough sleepers in Swindon.

 

The consultation runs until Thursday, 31 January 2019 and the results and comments will be collated.

 

To view the strategy and submit a comment, log on to https://bit.ly/2Fcwcx8.