News

Swindon Borough Council commits to carbon neutrality by 2030

Swindon Borough Council has committed to going carbon neutral by 2030 as councillors step up the fight against climate change.
At a meeting of the Full Council last night (23 January 2020), members unanimously agreed a motion committing the Council to reduce its corporate carbon emissions, with the aim of making the Council’s estate and activities carbon neutral by the end of the decade.
Members voted to ensure the Council’s strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030.
By taking a lead in the climate change movement, it is hoped that the Council can inspire local businesses, residents and other organisations to take a similar approach.
In a show of widespread unity, the motion was supported by the Council’s Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups.
Councillor Garry Sumner, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “I am extremely pleased that this important motion, which demonstrates our commitment to protecting the environment, was passed unanimously by all members last night.
“Climate change is, justifiably, right at the top of the political agenda at the moment, and this Council recognises how important it is for everybody to do their bit for the benefit of present and future generations.
“We sincerely hope that this significant vote will inspire other businesses and organisations to work towards full carbon neutrality. We all have a long way to go but the will and commitment is there and the target has been set.”
The commitment to going carbon neutral by 2030 follows a number of actions the Council has taken in recent months to play its part in protecting the environment.
A special Climate Change Working Group was established last year and quickly began thinking of actions. New parking standards in Planning will require every new house built in the borough to include charging points for electric vehicles; further investments in solar energy have been made; the Council has bought electric vehicles for its corporate fleet; installed electric vehicle charging points on the Civic campus; is investing in LED street lighting to save energy and has introduced a food waste trial to ensure that discarded food is properly disposed of.
Important links with organisations such as the Woodland Trust and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have been forged with plans to increase tree cover across the borough over the next decade.
There is more to do and work has already started on assessing available options, but a carbon neutral Council will be a reality by 2030.

Mannington road improvement scheme complete

Shoppers using Mannington Retail Park are benefitting from a scheme which will significantly improve congestion at a major Swindon roundabout.

A new slip road from the retail park directly onto Great Western Way has just been opened, which will reduce the amount of traffic leaving the shopping area at the Wootton Bassett Road exit and entering Mannington Roundabout.

Within the retail park itself, Telford Way has been widened to allow for a two-way flow of traffic and new signs have been installed to improve the internal layout, making it more efficient and simpler for motorists to navigate.

The latest improvements are part of an overall package of works at Mannington Roundabout, designed to improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion at peak times.

The overall £3.2m scheme has been funded by Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP).

Earlier phases of the work included the removal of the Wootton Bassett Road bus lane between Mannington Roundabout and the railway bridge to create extra queuing capacity, while the roundabout itself was widened near the Fish Brothers garage to improve traffic flow.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “Mannington Roundabout is a key junction in Swindon so it is incredibly important we keep traffic moving as best we can with the increasing number of vehicles on our roads.

“We now have more queuing capacity on Tewkesbury Way and Wootton Bassett Road and the latest work to build the new slip road from the retail park onto Great Western Way will enable people to exit the shopping park without having to go all the way back out onto the roundabout.

“This is just one of a number of improvement schemes we are carrying out in Swindon as we continue to invest millions of pounds upgrading our road network for local residents.”

John Mortimer, chairman of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) is investing £8.92m in three schemes in the Swindon area to improve the quality and efficiency of bus routes serving strategic housing developments.

“We are pleased that the completion of work at Mannington roundabout brings to a conclusion the first of these schemes, improving bus links between the town centre and the growing Wichelstowe development.

“As well as specific improvements around the Mannington roundabout area, this project will improve access to the town centre for Swindon residents, reduce journey times, support economic activity in the town and help to lower Swindon’s carbon footprint.

“It is the most recent example of investment from SWLEP’s £169m Local Growth Deal with Central Government to develop a growing and sustainable economy in the Swindon and Wiltshire area.”

 

Pride of Swindon Awards returns as search for community champions continues

Pride of Swindon Awards returns as search for community champions continues

The annual search for Swindon’s unsung heroes has begun following the launch of the latest Pride of Swindon Awards.

The awards, now in their 12th year, recognise and celebrate the many selfless people in Swindon who go above and beyond to help their local communities.

People are encouraged to nominate someone they think deserves an award. Maybe they regularly give up their free time to volunteer, have overcome adverse circumstances or have consistently been a strong role model for others?

This year’s awards were launched by Mayor of Swindon Cllr Kevin Parry at the Civic Offices on Friday (30 Nov).

Cllr Parry said: “I am delighted to be able to launch these awards which recognise the fantastic work done by so many people in Swindon.

“I am sure the judges will have as difficult a time as ever in picking the winners and I wish the best of luck to everybody who is nominated.”

A team of judges will be assembled to assess the nominations and a special ceremony will be held where the winners will be presented with their awards.

Those wanting to nominate individuals or teams have until Friday, 24 January 2020 to get an application in.

The winners will have their names permanently on show on a plaque at Swindon Central Library.

To nominate someone, follow this link and complete the form.

 

NHS – Help Us To Help You!

Look after yourself this winter:

As the dark nights draw in across Swindon and winter really starts to bite, it’s worth thinking about how we can all make sure we’re looking after ourselves and staying well over the cold winter months.

The NHS recently launched its annual winter campaign – Help Us Help You– which is here to help make it easier to understand the things you can do.

We all know hospitals and surgeries can be especially busy during the winter months and it can often be tricky to know the best place to go for help, so here’s some handy tips to see you though until spring:

1. It’s not too late to get your flu jab
The free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu, including people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and children aged 2-10. If you’ve not had one yet, it’s not too late.

2. Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk online
If you’re unsure where to go and think you need urgent medical attention, but it’s not life-threatening, contacting NHS 111 can help you make sure you reach the most suitable NHS service for your needs.

3. Ask a pharmacist for advice before minor ailments or winter illnesses get worse
Community pharmacists are qualified healthcare professional who can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines to safely manage things like coughs, colds and sore throats.
It’s quick and convenient to see a pharmacist– you don’t need to book an appointment and can often be seen in a private consultation room.

4. See your GP in the evening or weekend if you can’t see them during the day
If you need to see a GP but find it hard to find the time during routine hours, appointments with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional are often available in the evenings and at weekends through many local practices or other local NHS services.
For more information about services in your area visit:

http://swindonccg.nhs.uk/

 

 

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 www.swindon.gov.uk/newsletter

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 www.swindonnightshelter.uk

 

If you would like to be part of this project that can really make a difference, please contact Swindon Night Shelter on admin@swindonnightshelter.org.uk.

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.”

Council’s starts campaign to explain how potholes are fixed

Swindon Borough Council is running a two week campaign explaining how potholes are fixed and motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are being encouraged to join the hundreds of people already reporting them.

Over recent years potholes have become a major issue for residents, especially following last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ which caused extensive damage to roads across the country, including Swindon.

The Council inspects all the major routes across Swindon regularly, but limited resources mean that residential and rural streets can only be checked twice a year.

Last year the Council repaired over 7,500 potholes with just over 900 of those reported by the public.

National guidelines recommend that for a defect in the road to be technically classed as a pothole, it must be 40mm or deeper. A pothole in the pavement must be 30mm or deeper. Anything not meeting these standards will be monitored for further damage.

Once a pothole is found the Council uses three methods to fix them. The aim is always to make sure that the roads are safe and then to start planning and carrying out permanent repairs:

Temporary repair – This makes the road safe straight away but only lasts a few weeks and residents will see this as a rough patch. If a resident notices a patch like this has failed, they should report it and we will refill it within 24 hours. This method on average costs around £40 per repair and doesn’t disrupt traffic. It can be used multiple times until a permanent fix can be arranged.

Patch repair- This kind of repair fixes potholes properly and lasts for years but can cost thousands of pounds to complete meaning work has to be arranged and prioritised. It will often require road closures and licenses which can take months to arrange.

Full reconstruction- This kind of repair, like that which was carried out on Upham Road, will last for decades but can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and often requires months’ worth of closures and disruption to traffic.

Residents are also being encouraged to report potholes as part of the campaign. Once a pothole has been reported, one of the Council’s six highways inspectors aim to inspect all reports within four working days and if the pothole is 40mm or deeper, it should be fixed within 24 hours.

Following feedback from last year’s campaign, the Council has been working hard to streamline the reporting process and update the information on the website which helps residents to understand how potholes are repaired.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said: “As part of our efforts to improve Swindon’s road network last year our highways team fixed 7,592 potholes and damaged patches in roads and footpaths across Swindon’s road network which is over 500 miles long.

“Sometimes it may look like our repairs are poor quality but these repairs will be quick fixes to make roads safe while we organise a proper repair. Long term repairs require planning to minimise disruption to road users which we are always conscious of, and our limited budgets mean we have to prioritise our work and can not fix everything quickly.

“I would urge anyone who knows the location of a pothole on any road, cycle path or footpath within the borough to report it to us through our improved online reporting system so we can get out and repair it.”