Wiltshire

Candidates clash over Swindon's rapid expansion

Justin Tomlinson, James Faulkner, Janet Ellard, Mark Dempsey, Poppy Hebden-Leeder and presenter Lee Stone
Image caption Justin Tomlinson (left), James Faulkner, Janet Ellard, Mark Dempsey, Poppy Hebden-Leeder and presenter Lee Stone

Swindon's rapid growth needs to be matched with better infrastructure and a new link road, candidates have said.

Labour's Mark Dempsey said it was important the town "gets better as it gets bigger", and James Faulkner, UKIP, said brown field sites should be used.

Liberal Democrat Janet Ellard and Poppy Hebden-Leeder, Green, agreed more needs to be done to develop communities.

Justin Tomlinson, Conservative, said the growth had resulted in £19.2m of New Homes Bonuses from the government.

The five candidates were speaking on a BBC Wiltshire election debate programme.

In the last decade, the population of Swindon has grown by over 16% and the borough council is forecasting by 2021 there will be around, 240,000 people living in the town.

'New churches'

Poppy Hebden-Leeder, from the Green party, said the the infrastructure was not "keeping up" with the population.

"We're having to play catch-up very fast and I'm not sure just putting in a [northern link road] is sufficient," she said.

Liberal Democrat Janet Ellard said some areas lacked community feel and the town needed extra "community halls, shops and possibly new churches".

UKIP's James Faulkner said he wanted a new link road but said brownfield sites should be developed.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Swindon Borough Council is forecasting by 2021 there will be around, 240,000 people living in the town

"There are areas - the park and ride facility and industrial sites behind Stratton Road - which could now be used for house building," he said.

But Labour's Mark Dempsey said a University of Swindon and a "better town centre" were the "big priorities".

Conservative Justin Tomlinson said Mr Dempsey's "grand plans to go on a spending spree" could be jeopardised if Labour came into power.

"The Labour shadow minister confirmed they would scrap the New Homes Bonus because that money should be going to towns where they don't have development," he said.

"Swindon is the fastest growing town. It would rob Swindon of £19.2m."


The candidates for the constituency are:

Mark Dempsey, Labour

Janet Ellard, Liberal Democrat

James Faulkner, UKIP

Poppy Hebden-Leeder, Green

Justin Tomlinson, Conservative


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