On Thursday 30th March, Swindon welcomed Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer to the town, as part of the Labour party’s local election campaign.
Speaking to supporters in the Swindon Hub, Sir Keir Starmer explained Labours plans freeze council tax and introduce a Windfall Tax on energy companies to make up for any shortfall. This would mean that local residents would not pay a penny more than last year on their council tax bill, something which Labour hope will ease the cost-of-living crisis. There was also talk around the reformation of business rates in order to save our high streets.
During his visit, Sir Keir Starmer joined Dan O’Brien in the BBC Wiltshire Studios for Thursday’s edition of BBC Sounds. The podcast welcomed New College Swindon’s very own Jessica Docherty, who is currently a A-Level Politics student, as well as ex-student, Ellie Jaques-Matthias. The pair touched on some of the issues that really matter in Swindon and asked what Labour would do to fix them in the run up to the local elections.
Ex-student Ellie asked how Labour would tackle the issue of residents struggling to get a doctor’s appointment and improve public safety around the town. In his response, Sir Keir Starmer recognised the pressure the NHS is currently facing and said that Labour would be committed to introducing more doctors and nurses by abolishing non-dom tax, which currently allows the super-rich to avoid paying tax in this country. He said that the funding from this would allow the NHS to train new staff and increase their workforce. The Labour Leader also explained how Labour would invest in 13,000 new neighbourhood polices officers across the country, to improve the safety of local residents in different parts of the UK.
Another question that came was from Jessica, who asked if Labour would make bus fares free for students. Although Sir Keir Starmer wasn’t sure if they should be completely free, he did suggest that they should be capped at a certain price to help make them more affordable for students.
The Conservatives have held Swindon Borough Council since 2004, but in his party’s message on Thursday, Sir Keir Starmer told voters that ‘there is a choice’ in a bind to win back the town.
If you would like to listen to the interview, you can now stream it on BBC Sounds here: https://zurl.co/ETkQ (sign-in required).
Swindon’s local elections will be taking place on Thursday 4th May.