Author: Highworth Town Council

Festive afternoon tea and guided tours on offer at Lydiard House


Christmas will be coming early to Lydiard House thanks to a special festive treat on offer to visitors.


The Swindon Borough Council-owned stately home is offering a festive afternoon tea menu throughout November and December. For just £19.95 per person, visitors can enjoy a variety of hand-cut sandwiches, a warm mince pie, plus a selection of festive cakes, served with tea or mulled wine.


All guests will also be invited on a guided tour of Lydiard House, giving people the opportunity to experience the beautifully decorated halls for the festive season.


Lydiard House was home to the St John family for 500 years, and visitors will hear their fascinating history. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes, after which guests will be served three tiers of stunning festive treats.


The historic State Rooms of Lydiard House will be beautifully adorned with traditional foliage, a kissing ball, and a decorated Christmas tree. Floral decorations will also line mantle-pieces and doorways, adding splendour and festivity to the house.


The House has been decorated once again by Royal Wootton Bassett Flower Arranging Club.


Reservations for festive afternoon tea are available on Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 27 November and 19 December.


To make a reservation, please call 01793 465270. Full payment over the phone is required to secure your booking and a minimum of 24 hours’ notice is required.


Car parking is available at Hay Lane and Hook Street entrances. Parking charges apply.

Swindon Borough Council has preparations in place ahead of winter season


A team of eight drivers and eight gritting lorries are on standby should Swindon be hit by freezing temperatures over the coming months.


More than 500 tonnes of salt were delivered to Swindon Borough Council’s Waterside depot in Cheney Manor Industrial Estate during the summer, taking the road salt stockpile to over 1,300 tonnes.


The salt which has been put aside by the Council is enough to treat the town’s priority routes more than 50 times. Additional salt is on provisional order should Swindon experience snow or prolonged cold spells with further salt stocks easily available should they be needed.


Last year, the Council treated the priority routes 28 times using approximately 950 tonnes of salt.


The Council’s gritting team will be on alert 24 hours a day to grit the priority routes, which cover 208 miles of the borough’s 520-mile road network. They will also be on hand to plough the routes in the event of heavy snowfall.


The Council’s drivers have been out training over the past few weeks going over their routes and making sure they are as prepared as possible in the event of severe weather.


The Council has emergency planning procedures in place and staff in many service areas will also be placed on standby in the event of severe weather.


Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “Our gritting team have only just finished their winter training so are as prepared as they can be for any cold weather that might come our way in the months ahead.


“Last year, they did a tremendous job keeping our priority routes clear and we will need them again this winter should the weather take a turn for the worse.


“We have ordered plenty of road salt and have contingencies in place to order more should we need it, although our team’s good planning means we always have plenty in reserve. We also have plans in place to ensure we have staff ready to respond around the clock and keep our vulnerable residents safe in adverse weather.”


Further information on council services in an emergency or during adverse weather will be available on the Council’s social media accounts and through the Your Swindon newsletter available at

New Eastern Villages given £19m Government infrastructure boost


A vital link road which will connect the New Eastern Villages with Commonhead roundabout has received a major funding boost from the Government.


Swindon Borough Council has been awarded £19m from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to build the road from Commonhead roundabout to the north of Wanborough Road where it will link into residential development being promoted by developers.


The scheme has already been allocated £11.6m in funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund via Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), subject to a final business case being approved.


The two-way single carriageway will be 1.5 miles long and is being designed to avoid known environmental constraints including areas of archaeological interest.


Design options for the new road have been assessed and been subject to public consultation. The need for traffic calming in surrounding villages will continue to be assessed as development proposals come forward and measures will be put in place to safeguard wildlife, particularly endangered species, as part of the road crosses a flood zone.


Work on the new road will start next year and is due to be completed in the summer of 2021.


The 8,000-home New Eastern Villages, east of the A419, is one of the largest planned green field developments in the country and will create high quality communities via a series of linked villages.


The funding announcement for the Southern Connector Road comes just a few weeks after the Department for Transport allocated £22.5m to improvements to the nearby White Hart roundabout, which will also support the New Eastern Villages development and improve journey times on the A420.


The junction upgrade will increase capacity at the roundabout and see the creation of a new northbound slip road, the widening of the southbound slip road, an increase in the number of lanes and the installation of traffic signals.


Work is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.


Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “This latest funding for the Southern Connector Road is a major boost for the New Eastern Villages as we continue with our plans to build the infrastructure needed for this important development.


“The Southern Connector Road will create an important access into the new communities that will be built over the coming years. The funding is yet another endorsement from the Government of our ambitious plans for Swindon’s growth.”

Swindon Borough Council’s homeless winter housing scheme news

Council’s homeless winter housing scheme to return for a third year running


Swindon Borough Council’s successful Temporary Winter Housing Provision (TWHP) scheme will return for a third consecutive year.


The project, which will see a select number of homeless people given shelter during the cold winter period, will this year run for 12 weeks from Thursday, 2 January 2020.


This year the scheme, which provides a safe refuge for an identified group of entrenched rough sleepers, will be run by the charity Swindon Night Shelter.


Last year, the TWHP was accompanied by the opening of a new day centre, which is also run by Swindon Night Shelter. The day centre, located at The Haven off Queens Drive, acts as a first point of contact for rough sleepers to access vital services such as mental health provision and drug and alcohol support.


This year, 12 guests will be given a space in the TWHP scheme and will receive close personal support with the aim of encouraging them off the streets and into safe, long term accommodation.


Last year’s project was such a success that five guests were able to move into permanent accommodation by the end of the project.


The scheme is being funded by a £20,000 grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with Swindon Night Shelter providing the rest and the Council providing the building.


Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “The Temporary Winter Housing initiative is one of the Council’s flagship schemes that help rough sleepers in Swindon, and I am pleased to be able to say that it is returning this year.

“We are fully committed to doing everything we possibly can to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community and we will be with them every step of the way as they look to get themselves into safe and secure accommodation.”


Every year, the Council spends around £1.4m on supported housing projects and outreach services for homeless people and rough sleepers. This includes the provision of two direct access hostels with 70 bed spaces and additional emergency spaces so that nobody should sleep rough out of necessity.


The Council engages with rough sleepers via Rough Sleeper Navigators and also pays towards Floating Support Workers who go out onto the streets to encourage rough sleepers into accommodation.


The Council is also using an initiative known as Housing First, which focuses on moving people into accommodation first and wrapping tailored support services around them. The Council provides a range of housing options to suit people with different needs and the main priority is to get people off the streets and into accommodation.


Last year, more than 50 volunteers came forward to donate their time to help with the Temporary Winter Housing scheme, and volunteers are being sought for this year’s project.


To find out more about the work that Swindon Night Shelter does, log on to


If you would like to be part of this project that can really make a difference, please contact Swindon Night Shelter on

Residents encouraged to sign up for Beat the Street 2019

Beat the Street returns to Swindon next week and residents can now pick up their cards ready to join in the fun when the game launches.
The initiative, which is running for the second year running in Swindon, encourages people to get active outdoors and explore their area by turning whole towns and cities into a giant game. Players tap cards and fobs against sensors called Beat Boxes while walking or cycling to earn points towards their team in a bid to win hundreds of pounds worth of prizes.
Last year’s event was a huge success with an unprecedented 32,000 local people taking part and walking and cycling a massive 313,000 miles in just six weeks, a record for any of the Beat the Street challenges so far.
This year’s challenge begins on Wednesday, 25 September and runs for six weeks. A launch event will be taking place on the day from 4pm – 6pm at GWR Park on Faringdon Road where there will fun activities and double points available on beat boxes.
The game is organised by Intelligent Health and is funded by the National Lottery through Sport England and Swindon Borough Council.
Primary school pupils will be provided with a fob while other players are invited to collect cards and a map for free from distribution points across Swindon, including selected supermarkets, libraries and leisure centres. A full list of distribution points can be found at
Players can choose to join a school or workplace team, set up their own community group or join one of the teams playing on the charity leaderboard for one of the Mayor’s chosen charities: Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children’s Society or CALM (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement).
Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “Beat the Street is one week away so make sure you pick up a card and map so that you’re ready to start earning points for your chosen school or team straight away.
“We’ve already seen lots of excitement ahead of the game kicking off, with primary schools eager to travel even further than last year and lots of workplaces and community teams signing up to play. Beat the Street is a really fun way to get active and explore new areas of Swindon, so I’d really encourage people to get involved. Last year we were one of the top towns so let’s beat that this year and be the top town in the country.”
More information is available at

Council to consult residents on potential change to how councillors are elected

Swindon Borough Council is running a public consultation on a potential change to its election cycle, with the option to move away from the current ‘by thirds’ election model to a ‘whole council’ model instead.

Residents of the borough will be encouraged to voice their preference between the two proposed models via a postal consultation form sent to every household from 16 September. The consultation will end on 25 October.

The current election cycle used by the Council currently takes place in ‘thirds’. In this model, councillors are elected for a term of four years, with one third being elected for three consecutive years which is then followed by a fourth year when there are no elections.

The proposed alternative model, ‘whole council elections’, would mean that all seats on the Council will be elected at the same time, once every four years. Currently, this model is used by 70 per cent of unitary authorities across the country.

The biggest difference with ‘whole council elections’ is that there would be no borough elections between the four-yearly elections apart from by-elections, which would be triggered when an elected borough councillor does not complete their four-year term.

At a meeting held by the Council earlier this year, councillors agreed to hold a consultation on potentially changing the Council’s election cycle, which will be carried out by council officers independently from politicians.

After the consultation period has finished, councillors will consider all the feedback received from the public consultation and make a decision on which model to use at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 21 November 2019.

As part of the consultation, every household in the borough will receive an envelope through the door that will contain a letter explaining the consultation along with an explanatory leaflet and a pre-paid envelope to return their opinion on the potential change. The letters will be delivered over a period of a week starting from the 16 September.

All residents who currently meet the criteria to vote in a local election will be asked to take part in the consultation. It will be run independently by election specialists Electoral Reform Services, who will provide the results of the postal consultation to councillors before they make a decision.

Parish councils, local businesses, community groups and other interested parties who engage with the Council will also be asked for their opinions on the potential change and can submit their comments from today (4 Sep) by visiting:

Further information about the consultation and how to get in touch with the Elections team can also be found on the Council’s website.

Matt Box, Swindon Borough Council’s Head of Elections and Democracy, said: “This consultation is an opportunity for the people of the borough to have a say on how they vote for their local councillors in the future and how their local area is run.

“I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation via the postal forms sent to every household and provide feedback so that councillors can understand the views of residents before making their decision.”

Pupils to be warned about the dangers of carrying weapons thanks to new awareness campaign

Swindon Borough Council is working with its partners to launch a campaign aimed at educating young people and parents about the risks associated with carrying weapons and drug abuse.
Save a Friend will aim to encourage young people to help a friend if they think they are at risk of being exploited, educate young people about the dangers of carrying a weapon and signpost to agencies who can provide support for young people and their families.
Although a rise in knife crime has been reported across the country, Wiltshire has one of the lowest rates in the UK. The Council, in partnership with Wiltshire Police and Swindon’s secondary schools and colleges, is taking a proactive approach to ensure that crime involving the use of weapons does not become an issue in Swindon.
The campaign aims to reassure both young people and their parents or carers and give them the information they need to recognise if someone is trying to draw a young person into this type of activity. Information will also be provided on how young people can support each other and where they can go if they need help.
The Save a Friend campaign is taking place from Thursday (19 Sep) until 26 September. The programme of activity will coincide with Operation Sceptre, a national Police knife and weaponry amnesty.
Over the two weeks, pupils will have the opportunity to listen to guest speakers who have experiences of gang involvement and drug abuse. There will also be firearm and knife education sessions hosted by the police and a dedicated school curriculum on the issue.
Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: ““It is important that we educate our young people on the dangers of gang activity and the dangers of using weapons.
“The work we are doing with the schools and colleges in Swindon will help young people to make the right choices and become more resilient.
“We don’t want to see any young person being criminally exploited in Swindon. At the same time as tackling the people responsible for these crimes, we are educating our children and young people about the signs and the risks, so that they can make the right choices.”
Sgt David Tippetts said: “The ‘Save a Friend’ campaign is an excellent way of educating young people to look out for each other and stay safe.
“It’s important that young people know the warning signs and the risks associated with carrying weapons. This coupled with information for teaching staff and parents really does encompass everyone who can make a difference and will continue to reduce fear amongst young people.
“Wiltshire Police fully support this initiative and we will continue to work with partner agencies in our approach to knife crime.”


Parents urged by Council to apply now for school places

Parents and carers with children entering primary or secondary school for the first time next year are being advised by Swindon Borough Council that they now need to apply for school places for them.
This year, the Council was able to give 95 per cent of applicants their first preference for primary schools, and 91 per cent for secondary schools.
However, parents are encouraged to put down a second and third choice of school when they apply, in case their first choice school is oversubscribed.
Children born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2009 who are entering secondary school next year will have until 31 October 2019 to submit their top three school preferences.
Parents of children born between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016 who are entering primary school will have until 15 January 2020 to submit their preferences. Both closing dates follow national guidelines.
The offer of a preferred school place depends upon the number of applications received and the number of places available. Priority for places will be determined by the individual school’s admission criteria.
Applications submitted after the deadline has passed will be considered as a low priority and the child concerned will be allocated a school place after all other applications have been considered. Late applicants are unlikely to be placed in their preferred school. To avoid this situation parents are urged to get their submissions in with plenty of time to spare.
Applications for both secondary and primary school spaces should be made online on the Council’s website which contains all of the information parents will need to make their application.
Those with children entering secondary school will be informed about the outcome of their application on 2 March 2020 and those with children entering primary school will be told on 16 April 2020.
Councillor Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and School Attainment, said: “It’s hugely important that parents and carers submit their applications for school places before the national deadlines so they have a much better chance of getting a school place at one of their three preferred schools.
“Our School Admissions team works extremely hard, and with great success, to match children to one of their preferences but I would urge parents not to delay in getting their applications in to help us with that process.”

People in Swindon asked for their views on future of transport in region

Residents and businesses are being asked for their views in order to help inform plans to improve transport links from Swindon to the South Midlands and East of England.

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH), which is a partnership between several local authorities including Swindon Borough Council, is asking people to have their say on its Outline Transport Strategy which will set out the region’s infrastructure needs to both government and the private sector.

Working with EEH, the Council is raising Swindon’s transport issues in order to make the case for securing additional funding that will benefit the borough.

The Council will also be able to make the case for the westward extension of the East West Rail services towards Swindon and Bristol, influence decisions regarding the Oxford to Cambridge expressway, while also promoting the case for further investment in the A420 corridor.

People have until October 31 to comment on the Outline Transport Strategy.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We recognise there are huge economic opportunities along the Oxfordshire to Cambridgeshire growth corridor, which is why the Council joined the EEH group.

“Ensuring we have better connectivity to Oxford and beyond is a key priority and we will be using our position within EEH to push for more funding and investment to improve the A420 and direct rail links between Swindon and Oxford.

“It is therefore important that local people here contribute to this transport strategy so that Swindon’s transport needs are represented in future plans.”

England’s Economic Heartland is a voluntary partnership of councils and local enterprise partnerships which represent the key growth corridor from Oxfordshire through Milton Keynes and across to Cambridgeshire.

EEH provides leadership in the long term planning of strategic infrastructure, in order to realise the region’s economic potential in a way which improves accessibility and inclusivity, quality of life and the environment.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, chair of EEH’s Strategic Transport Forum – which includes elected leaders and cabinet members from authorities across the region – said: “I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the region’s future to have their say and help shape the detail of our future transport system.”

People can find out more information about the EEH Outline Transport Strategy and have their say by visiting: