Martin Wiltshire – Old Town
I moved to Swindon temporarily in 1988 and fell in love with this town. I met my wife and have had a family here. I served as a Councillor for Eastcott ward from 2003 to 2011 where I lived and breathed that ward. I have now been living in Old Town for 8 years and believe it is time I stood up again for the liberal values I hold so dear. My great grandfather was the Liberal mayor of Calne, being Wiltshire Liberal runs through my veins.
I studied engineering to degree level at Bristol Polytechnic graduating with commendation in 1986. I have worked in the automation and control field for my whole professional life. I worked for Square D from 1989 and then briefly for Schneider Electric after they bought the company. I now run my own company. Soon after moving to Swindon I formed two bands that played local pubs and festivals. I play guitar and bass. I moved to Swindon with a dog and we have just recently added a puppy to our family.
My Grandfather fought in the last European war against the oppression of dictatorship. As a liberal I too fight oppression. This is one reason I am a passionate European and why I oppose with every sinew this Tory Brexit. When I was on the Council I had a reputation for standing up for my community, for helping those who needed it and for calling out bad practice on the Council when I saw it. If elected I will play my part in holding the Council to account and work hard for this ward and its residents.
What I will do when elected:
The pandemic has hit us all in different ways. For some the loss of loved ones or the isolation of shutdown is an unbearable strain. Where most would have shrugged of feeling down by taking refuge in the company of friends, this may no longer be an option. Mental illness is no longer someone else’s problem. At least it shouldn’t be. We have a community that can care if given the opportunity. I belong to a neighbourhood platform that could be applied in a more focussed way to try and bring the lonely and forgotten members of our community back into it. It can also be good for less affected residents.
Crime has always been seen as a problem. While an Eastcott Councillor I worked with the Council and Police to reduce the chances of crime by keeping an eye on the gangs of youth that used to cause so much vandalism over the weekends. I held local meetings to find the specific concerns and to update residents on what we had been doing. Equally we need more PCSO’s who have been magnificent and are the eyes, ears and visible presence that deters crime and helps calm the more nervous of us.
One area I have some experience with is Planning. I was on the Planning Committee for all of my previous time on the Council.
The development of Angel Ridge was approved shortly after I joined SBC. We managed to bring the number of residences down arguing that it would have meant a severe lack of amenity. Since I have been living in the ward I have noticed that the local Councillors (Tory and Labour) have been unable to stop houses intended for use by a family be converted into 7 or 8 flats. This is an issue in Wichelstowe and will in time be one for the new 99 homes to be built in Canalside. It is not just a problem for parking and the health risk to the community of excess rubbish but is also bad for the residents of the flats themselves. It is also a very difficult thing to reverse. I will keep on top of this through actively seeking out potential development and fighting it. To help with this I will create online groups that will give regular updates from me but perhaps more importantly give residents a forum for being the eyes and ears of the community.
An issue that relates to this is parking. Recent changes (and previous ones under Labour) to Planning guidance have reduced the need for providing adequate parking when developing new build or house conversions. Current Planning guidance and practice favour the developer. It was the same when I was on the Council. Although turning back the hand of time is not possible, I will continue my fight to have sensible Planning guidance as well as implement mitigating policies such as resident parking schemes. I would call for a resident’s parking review.
Honda is closing down. We need to mitigate the effects on the workforce and those in its supply chain. Money needs to be set aside specifically for this. This extended workforce has skills that must not be lost. They may need retraining. They will need financial and psychological support. We could take this opportunity for some inward investment.