ELECTION 2014 - Blunsdon & Highworth: Distinct areas need fine balancing act (From This Is Wiltshire)
ELECTION 2014 - Blunsdon & Highworth: Distinct areas need fine balancing act
While there are worries within Blunsdon that development will swallow the village, concerns in Highworth are the town will become isolated as cuts to local government take effect.
The Local Plan, which will determine the level of housing in Swindon until 2026, is going through its public hearing. One of the biggest proposed developments is at Kingsdown that could eventually see 1,500 homes built and residents fear it will effectively swallow Blunsdon into the whole town.
Stuart Boyd, of Blunsdon Parish Council, said: “Currently there are three developments around us which have been given approval or the diggers have started to move in, and this does not include Kingsdown.
“We are not against development overall as we supported several along Ermin Street. A big problem though is the effect this is having on the roads which are getting busier and busier.
“For example, it used to be an occasion to see a vehicle coming the other along the Highworth Road whereas now there is a regular stream of traffic.
“If the Kingsdown development gets approved they are talking about building 600 homes before the bridge over the A419 is built. That would have a terrible impact on the roads.”
While Stuart accepts that a councillor is unlikely to be able to halt development, he would like to see it managed with the councillors talking to developers.
He said: “It is very important to the people of Blunsdon that the character of the village is maintained. We have some very good facilities with the village shop for example, so we don’t want all this disappear.”
Over on the other side of the ward, people in Highworth want key services maintained so residents do not have to take the bus into Swindon every day.
Keith Smith, chairman of the Highworth Community Partnership Group, said: “It is very important the Sure Start centre does not close and the council work to make sure those hit by taxes do not get hit too hard.
“What is also really important are the youth services. We used to have a very strong youth club but with the reduction in funds it can’t keep the same level of services up.
“People say the youngsters can go to the Platform in Swindon but they need to recognise Highworth is a market town six miles outside Swindon and the youths can’t jump on a bus all the time.”
All three seats were won by quite large margins by the Conservative Party at the last local election in 2012.
BLUNSDON & HIGHWORTH CANDIDATES:
Phil BEAUMONT (Labour)
Andrew Donald DAY (Green Party)
Clive HOOPER (Liberal Democrat)
Ross SHUGAR (UK Independence Party)
Steve WEISINGER (Conservative)
Turnout in 2012 election: 34 per cent (8674)
- For the full list of candidates in every ward, including profiles, click here.