The elections are now over; first I would like to thank all of you who exercised your democratic right and voted. It has been said that decisions are made by those who show up and casting your ballot is a vital element.
I would also like to pay tribute to the candidates and hundreds of volunteers who braved the appalling weather to deliver leaflets, canvass and carry out all the other unpaid work without which elections do not happen. These individuals, often rendered completely anonymous as “the Party” are the vital element in a democracy as they accept the responsibility for campaigning while others are too willing to sit back and complain.
I am grateful that despite some poor results for Coalition parties in the election, here in Swindon we resisted the tide and produced one of the best results in the country. We will not be deterred from the task of continuing to drive Swindon forward and build on our success to date.
Now it is back to business. The challenges that we face remain the same. At a time of diminishing resources, we have rising demand, particularly with our ageing population and vulnerable children and adults. I remain committed to seeing that the Council continues to provide these services ensuring a decent quality of life.
Whoever had won the election would have faced the same challenges in delivering balanced budgets in future years. If we delude ourselves that we can trim a bit here and bit there we will fail. That is why we have chosen to work in a much more collaborative way with all our partners in Swindon to focus on the outcomes we need to achieve. We are seeking ways to transform what we do so that we get better outcomes at lower cost. Swindon is now nationally recognised for much of the innovation we are bringing to the challenge.
One of our biggest priorities is the ongoing regeneration of the town centre. The Council adopted a regeneration plan in 2009 and is currently updating it to take account of the economic situation. Swindon’s residents can have great confidence in the plan because it was so comprehensive that the opposition used it as their own regeneration strategy during the elections. Therefore, I look forward to working with all councillors to see that we do end up with the new town centre we all want and the town deserves. Nearly £500 million of regeneration is starting as I write this column. Swindon is leading the UK in regeneration at the present time.
Lots of work remains to be done and being the administration means making the tough choices, and the right choices. You have elected 57 Councillors to make decisions. I will do all I can as always to ensure that we maintain your trust in us.