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Swindon Borough Cabinet approves plans for Cultural Quarter in Swindon Town Centre

Swindon Borough Cabinet approves plans for Cultural Quarter in Swindon Town Centre

 

 

Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet has agreed plans to build a brand new Cultural Quarter in the town centre.

Cabinet members met last night (Wed) to discuss the proposals and gave the go-ahead to building the Cultural Quarter on the Kimmerfields regeneration site, located between the railway station and opposite the former Debenhams building on Fleming Way.

The Council has spent the past year working closely with key partners in Swindon’s arts, cultural and business sectors, meticulously preparing plans to create a new Cultural Quarter to help revitalise the town centre and boost the town’s cultural offer.

The plans for the Cultural Quarter are expected to come to fruition over the next 10 years and include, among other things, a new theatre, dance centre, digital media and arts hub and new facilities to display Swindon’s nationally-significant art collection.

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said: “I am delighted that so many people have agreed that this positive vision is a credible, realistic and deliverable approach for improving Swindon town centre over the next 10 years.

“My Cabinet colleagues and I are determined to see a new Wyvern Theatre built by 2030 with a 1,200 capacity – double the number of seats today – so our town can attract the big national and regional shows and performers. We also support the creation of a wider Cultural Quarter that includes a new museum, art gallery, dance centre and digital studio.

“It won’t be the Council paying for the estimated £80m cost, so the hard work now begins. Over the next six months the Council will work closely with partners in the arts sector, and funding bodies like the Arts Council, to prepare the full financial business case and an investment prospectus to make this vision one step closer to reality.”

Mark Powell, Artistic Director at Swindon’s Prime Theatre, said: “Too often Swindon’s young people are disadvantaged by lack of experience or aspiration. Every week in Swindon schools, I see how art awakens imagination, education and empowerment.

“The town is making a bold commitment to future generations with this plan. Swindon won’t just be a place to live and work, but a place to dream and achieve as well.”

The Cultural Quarter plans enjoy cross-party support on the Council.

The proposals are very much in their infancy and residents should not expect to see any building work on site for a while yet. But the Council believes in being bold and brave in its ambitions for Swindon, and to spearhead town centre regeneration.

Picture captions: Artist’s impressions of the Cultural Quarter. Credit: Make Architects

Swindon Borough Council turns Swindon’s traffic lights green

Swindon Borough Council turns Swindon’s traffic lights green

Swindon’s traffic lights have been switched to LEDs as the Council moves towards a greener future.

Sixty-seven of Swindon’s traffic light sites have been upgraded from halogen bulbs to low power environmentally friendly LEDs. The upgrade will save Swindon Borough Council more than £33,000 in energy and maintenance costs per year and will reduce the Council’s annual carbon footprint by 66 tons of carbon dioxide.

The LEDs have a lower fault rate than their halogen predecessors, which will reduce the level of maintenance required for their upkeep and provide a more reliable experience for motorists and pedestrians.

The £193,000 scheme was funded by the Council through its capital budget for 2020/21. The scheme will take just under six years to repay and is expected to start realising savings by the end of 2020.

The new LEDs have been retrofitted into the existing traffic lights, which has reduced the cost, time on site, program length and waste generated by the scheme.

In total, 458 traffic light heads were upgraded, which is approximately 1,374 new LED red, amber and green light fittings. The traffic signal controllers at all 67 sites have also been upgraded to ensure they are compatible with the new LEDs.

There are currently 206 traffic light sites in Swindon and 151 sites now operate with LEDs. The remaining 55 halogen bulb sites are due to be replaced, refurbished, altered or removed through other council programmes.

Any traffic light sites that have been refurbished within the last 10 years will already have LEDs.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Maintenance and Waste Services, said: “This is a glowing example of one of the many things the Council is doing to help reach carbon neutrality by 2030. So far we’ve already spent £15m on low carbon interventions to improve our local environment as part of our Carbon Reduction Strategy.

“This scheme, combined with our LED street lighting programme, solar energy farms and investment in electrical vehicles, amongst others, will help us deliver on government targets.

“I’m also very pleased that the scheme has caused little to no disruption for our residents and I hope that, going forward, our traffic lights provide a more reliable and safer experience for motorists and pedestrians on Swindon’s roads.”

School Safety update

Over the next five years Swindon Borough Council will be improving road safety and congestion issues outside Swindon’s schools.
Between now and March 2021, we’ll be working closely with 15 schools to introduce a range of measures which could include:

• new road signs and road markings
• speed limit changes
• waiting restrictions and cycling facilities

Flu vaccination – More important that ever this year

It’s more important than ever to get your flu vaccination this year.

In an average year, the flu virus kills 11,000 people in England and hospitalises many more. Help keep the pressure off of the NHS this winter and get vaccinated.

If you are eligible and haven’t been able to get your vaccination yet, you will still be able to have it before flu season starts.

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Swindon Borough Council unveils plans to be carbon neutral by 2030

Swindon Borough Council unveils plans to be carbon neutral by 2030

Ambitious plans to make Swindon Borough Council carbon neutral within 10 years will be presented to councillors next week (21 Oct).

The Council’s Cabinet will also hear about wider plans to work with partners towards carbon neutrality for the whole borough to ensure it delivers on government targets.

In line with the Council’s Vision for Swindon, the Carbon Reduction Strategy sets out the next steps to reduce the local authority’s carbon emissions after councillors unanimously backed a motion in January to make the Council carbon neutral by 2030.

It builds on the Council’s work to lead on low carbon interventions and improve the local environment. The Council has already spent over £15m in the construction of solar energy farms, the installation of electric vehicle charging points, the use of LED street lights and investment in electric vehicles amongst others.

The Council has already been working internally to reduce its carbon footprint over recent years with successful projects including LED lighting at STEAM and has significantly reduced the amount of paper used for printing.

The strategy sets out how the Council will reduce its current carbon footprint across the borough taking into account vehicle emissions, energy used to power and heat offices and other buildings, street lighting, business travel and heating. This amounts to a reduction of carbon emissions of 11,800 tonnes per year.

This will include measures such as the installation of energy-friendly LED lighting, investment in low-emission vehicles, continuing to make council buildings more energy efficient and encouraging sustainable travel for staff.

Alongside the ambition to reduce its own carbon footprint, the Council will also be playing a role leading the wider town to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Current analysis shows road travel, residential buildings and institutional buildings and facilities produce over two thirds of the current 1.5m tonnes of CO2 emission currently produced by the borough each year.

The Council will be looking to influence, educate and support residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint through powers and activity such as using the planning process to influence how new houses are built.

A consultation on the strategy with local residents and businesses will be undertaken in the coming months giving them the opportunity to have their say on the Council’s approach. A more detailed implementation plan setting out the journey to achieve all the targets will then follow. More details on the consultation will be released at the appropriate time.

Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: “Protecting our environment is a key commitment for this Council and this ambitious strategy sets out how we plan to meet our pledge to become carbon neutral.

“We have already invested a significant amount in renewable energy, sustainable travel and energy savings schemes and this strategy sets out our next steps.

“As a leading voice in the town we plan to set the example by bringing our own organisation down to net zero and we hope many others will follow suit.

“While we will do everything we can, it will be down to all of us as residents and businesses to change the way we travel, work and live if we are to cut our carbon emissions as a borough.”

Swindon Borough Council rolls out further support measures to improve personal wellbeing

Swindon Borough Council is urging members of the public to look after their mental and physical health during the coronavirus outbreak after the Government extended the current lockdown period until May.

As a result, the Council has published important advice on its website that residents can follow to ensure they keep fit and healthy during this time.

Vital measures to support residents and businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have already been put in place by the Council, but the local authority is now encouraging residents to think of themselves now they are being asked to stay in their homes for longer.

Advice on how to keep active, including special tips on exercising at home offered by fitness experts at Sport England, are on the Council’s website, along with tips on how to get a good night’s sleep if people are feeling worried or anxious, as well as advice on how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Mental health is a big focus of the support and there is a section on the website dedicated to staying connected with others through social media and digital technology. There are also links to charities such as MIND and The Mental Health Foundation.

Help is available for victims of domestic abuse and advice for people worried about falling victim to scammers and fraudsters, reports of which have recently been received by the Council’s Trading Standards team.

People can also find tips on how to manage their waste and recycling and there are how-to videos for council housing tenants who may wish to carry out small repairs to their properties.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Now the lockdown has been extended, it is incredibly important that people continue to take good care of themselves and look after their mental and physical wellbeing.

“Isolation presents challenges to all of us and I would encourage people to take a look at our website to see if there any pieces of advice that would be helpful to them during this uncertain time. We must look after ourselves and each other.”

Helping those who need it most in your community

Helping those who need it most in your community

Vulnerable people forced to self-isolate due to the coronavirus pandemic will be offered a helping hand, thanks to a new voluntary initiative in Swindon.

Swindon Borough Council has teamed up with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre Swindon to help pair volunteers with those who have no one to help them during the current public health emergency.

Members of the community who want to help those who are self-isolating, who do not have their own support networks, can now log their offers of support with Voluntary Action Swindon, who will work with the Council to pair them up with those most in need.  This could involve speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship or collecting shopping for those who are staying at home.

Pam Webb, CEO of Voluntary Action Swindon, said:If you are someone who is self- isolating or in need of non-medical assistance as a result of coronavirus, we would recommend in the first instance that you reach out to family members, neighbours and friends that you know personally. But we are very aware that there will be people in our local community for whom this is not possible.

“These are the people we hope to help through our ‘Compassionate Swindon’ initiative.  We also want to try and help the many charities and care services continue to thrive who are also experiencing staff and volunteer shortages due to current containment protocols.

“As usual in difficult times the community spirit shines through and all three of the organisations in this partnership have been contacted by people wanting to volunteer.  We want to make sure that this fantastic community spirit is harnessed in the best way to keep both volunteers and those being helped safe.”

People who wish to support others should visit www.vas-swindon.org to complete a simple online form indicating how they are willing to help. The team at the Council’s Live Well hub will be helping to match all volunteers with those in need.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said:The Live Well Hub in Swindon works all year round handling referrals and giving people access to opportunities and services which can help improve their health and wellbeing.

“We are therefore very well placed to step up our current service in these difficult times to help people in our local community who are feeling more vulnerable. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre Swindon to harness the goodwill of the people of Swindon to provide help where it is needed.

“Anyone in the Swindon community needing some non-medical help can call the Council’s team on 01793 465513 or email livewell@swindon.gov.uk so they can be put in touch with residents willing to help.”

Sarah Troughton, HM Lord- Lieutenant of Wiltshire, said: “I am very pleased to back this initiative from Swindon Borough Council and Voluntary Action Swindon. It is a sensible and practical way of helping each other at this tricky time in different ways. We are only at the start of the three or four-month period of isolation and patience and goodwill is going to be required as much as anything. The Swindon community will be trailblazers.”

Sue Dunmore, CEO of the Volunteer Centre Swindon states: “The Volunteer Centre Swindon works hard to match people interested in volunteering with suitable opportunities and to ensure volunteering best practice is applied. We are delighted to be part of this partnership.” 

Bus pass restrictions to be lifted for older and disabled people in Swindon

 

Bus pass restrictions to be lifted for older and disabled people in Swindon

 

Older people and those with disabilities will be able to use their bus passes before 9.30am from Monday (23 March).

 

Swindon Borough Council has made the decision in conjunction with local bus companies to enable both older and disabled residents to get to the shops earlier during the current COVID-19 pandemic so they can take advantage of designated shopping slots from the major supermarkets.

 

Holders of a senior citizen and disabled bus pass were previously only able to travel for free on buses after 9.30am.

 

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment said: “I would like to thank all our local bus companies for their support in extending the period in which people can use their bus passes.

 

“This will make a real difference to the older generation and those people with disabilities, giving them greater access to shops during what is a really difficult time for our local communities.”

 

Swindon Borough Council has a statutory duty to provide passes for free bus travel throughout England for older and disabled people under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS).