Labour's Heidi Alexander puts Swindon's issues on national stage

Heidi Alexander speaking at the labour Party conference
Heidi Alexander speaking at the labour Party conference

Labour members at the party’s conference in Liverpool, and politics nerds watching on TV, got an insight, albeit not a very impartial one, into some of the issues affecting Swindon today.

The party’s selected candidate to fight the next election in the South Swindon constituency, Heidi Alexander, was selected to speak in the main debate on the economy on Monday.

On the day the pound fell to a record low, Ms Alexander pulled no punches.

She said: “Swindon is my home town. A place with a proud history of the railways, car manufacturing and more recently home to great companies like Nationwide, Intel and Zurich.

“But what do we have to show for 12 years of a Conservative government and 20 years of a Conservative council?

“Row upon row of empty shops.  The Honda factory has gone - and with it nearly 5,000 good quality jobs. Our iconic leisure centre - the Oasis - boarded up. A For Sale sign up outside our museum and art gallery.

“Swindon is crying out for investment. No amount of fighting with other councils for the scraps of Towns Fund money is going to cut it.

“Tax cuts for those earning over 150,000 pounds a year and lifting the cap on bankers' bonuses has gone down like a bucket of cold sick in Swindon.

Try explaining the fairness in that to the nurse at Great Western Hospital who has to use a food bank. Try explaining that to my dad - an electrician who will have earned less in his entire life than some investment bankers will earn in a year.”

Ms Alexander drew laughter from her fellow delegates for a dig at a speech about trade and food made by Liz Truss in 2014 saying: “Conference; this is not the politics of envy, it is a disgrace.”

It’s time for a change.  We have to win in South Swindon to get a Labour government. And I promise you, I won’t rest until we get one.”

Ms Alexander’s opponent come to the next election sitting Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland, a cabinet member in Liz Truss’s government said: ”I continue to work hard to ensure that we receive our fair share of Government funding here in Swindon.

“So far, we have received a total of £100 million of Government funding for “Levelling Up” our town, which will enable us to invest in infrastructure that will improve everyday life for residents across Swindon.

“We have received £11.6m from the Department of Transport to help fund a vital new road, which will link the New Eastern Villages with the existing local road network.

“Swindon has also recently been awarded just under £1.5m from the Government’s Safer Streets Funding. This funding has already supported the introduction of measures and proven to cut crime, the installation of additional street lighting, CCTV and alley gates on rear alleyways.

“A new £20m Urgent Treatment Centre has recently opened at Great Western Hospital. This is all part of the Government’s investment in facilities at Great Western Hospital, as work continues to improve urgent and emergency care services, following £30 million of government funding.

“I am pleased that Swindon’s new state-of-the-art £21 million Government funded Institute of Technology will be opening soon at New College Swindon’s North Star Complex. Alongside North Swindon MP, Justin Tomlinson, I campaigned hard for a new Institute of Technology to be built here in the town, and I was delighted when Swindon was awarded funding to build one of the first twelve Institutes of Technology in the country.

“As well as Government funding, I continue to work hard to attract businesses, such as Panattoni, Europe’s largest developer of industrial and logistics facilities, to invest heavily in our town. They have pledged to invest £700m into the 370-acre site that belonged to Honda on the outskirts of the town.”