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Putting Swindon at the heart of Council Thinking

April 28, 2019 2:15 PM
By Stan Pajak in Swindon Link Magazine, April 2019

Councillor Stan PajakI have lived all my life in the centre of Swindon serving as a councillor for the past 34 years. The success of our town is down to its wonderful position making it a great place for both business and people. Alas what has happened in recent years has been the failure by successive Council administrations to understand the importance of a thriving, cultural and welcoming town centre. Instead we have witnessed the donut effect where new shopping centres and investment out of town have became a policy leaving a hole in the centre where lack of investment, decay of our heritage matched by increasing empty shops have become the norm. This has to stop. All our neighbouring authorities have shown the way from Bristol, Reading, Bath, Cheltenham and Gloucester by removing politics, working together with an agreed plan supported by their residents.

Our arts offer needs to be a new museum and art gallery matched by an improved enlarged Wyvern theatre ideally partially financed by Lottery funding or through considering the sale of the civic offices. Our heritage offer needs to include suitable developments of the Mechanics Institute and the Old Town Locarno(Corn Exchange) but without the talked about car parking on the Lawns. Old Town has a wonderful character and its attractiveness should be enhanced with free parking at the car parks for at least an hour. Town centres are made more attractive by small exciting innovative shops and this can be achieved by the successful model adopted in Oldham which operates with business rates reduced by a massive 80% in the first year of operation and 50% in the second virtually removing empty shops. This has to matched by ensuring all new planning proposals in the town centre meet the crucial test of making our town more attractive. Our green spaces must remain a top priority and inevitably to in today's world more enforcement officers are required.

Together politicians, residents and business can make our town centre the beating heart of Swindon.