We are trying to make Swindon better
OVER the past six months a grassroots movement has been growing in Swindon which is seeking to improve the reputation of politics in the town.
However, instead of taking to the streets Better Swindon has found more success by talking with the council.
In its relatively short life, the group has already helped to develop a new approach for consultations and are in talks on ways the standards process can be improved.
“When we first started I think we all thought it we would end up being a protest group,” said Chairman Chris Barry.
“In fact, what we have found is that we are pushing against an open door. The councillors and officers we have dealt with have all been very welcoming. They have listened to what we have to say and are open to suggestion.
“What we are seeking to do is to improve the overall image of politics and politicians, which nationally have a very poor reputation these days.
“If we can help to show that the system is more open and accountable then I think everyone will benefit.”
Since its first meeting last year, Better Swindon, has seen interest in what it does grow, with posts on Facebook receiving more and more views each week.
One of the groups strengths is it is non-party political meaning it can speak with the council with no agenda. Instead, it has six key principles regarding transparency and openness which it hopes every councillor will sign up to.
Chris said: “When we first started we thought about possibly endorsing several independent candidates which has been done with great success elsewhere but we’ve moved away from that.
“Instead, we want all councillors to both sign up to them and be held accountable. We know of several councillors in each party who have agreed to it so the next step is to get all the main parties to endorse them.
“Better Swindon is essentially a group of like-minded volunteers who all want to see the best for our town.”
The group has also received high profile endorsement, including the former lawyer of Nelson Mandela.
Lord Joel Joffe, who lives in Liddington, said: "Better Swindon has been founded by local people seeking to create positive change in the Borough of Swindon.
“Belief, goodwill and determination are helping to build support in this non political movement and I would encourage all local politicians to sign up and be prepared to be held account to the six Better Swindon principles."
The next public meeting of Better Swindon will take place on April 30 at the Croft Sports Centre in Old Town, starting at 8pm.