Councillor Renard’s Swindon Advertiser column, 30th November 2017

Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council

Keeping Swindon moving. It sounds like a simple thing to do. But in our town it is a huge challenge particularly when Swindon continues to grow and more and more people are choosing to own cars.

Success: 4m visitors to the Designer Outlet Centre

When you factor in the phenomenal success of the Designer Outlet Centre, which has seen upwards of four million visitors a year, it is easy to see why there are pressures on particular parts of our road network.

Although Swindon is blessed with excellent rail links, the railway line itself has always been a hindrance, bisecting the town in half and making it less easy to navigate between the north and south of the borough.

Millions of pounds has been invested over the last few years to increase capacity at some of our busiest junctions in order to cater for this increase in traffic, but there is no magic wand and unless we start to see more people choosing to leave their cars at home we are going to see increasing levels of congestion on our roads.

Swindon is not alone and major towns and cities with excellent destinations like the Outlet Centre and STEAM will also face extremely high volumes of traffic over the next few weeks.

We know residents have experienced problems with traffic and Councillor Mary Martin, the Cabinet Member whose portfolio covers highways, has been working hard with her officers and the Outlet Village and, as she reported earlier this week, we are already taking a number of measured responses.

£4m to improve the Mead Way corridor; £10m to increase capacity at Junction 16.

With £2.5m of government funding and S106 payments we are investing £4m to improve the Mead Way corridor to ease congestion for residents and work will start soon to improve the traffic flow at Mannington Roundabout. This is in addition to the £10m of work that is well underway to increase capacity at Junction 16.

The Council is installing yellow lines on Paddington Drive to prevent the lorry parking that adds to the congestion while the Designer Outlet Centre will deploy staff to marshal vehicles to allow the service road to be used to relieve congestion at peak times

Of course, one way local residents who use the Outlet can help is to use buses rather than their cars as the area is well served by at least two bus companies.

New trains, improved railways

For those coming from further afield we would encourage to come to Swindon by train, taking advantage of Network’s Rail and GWR’s billion pound plus investment in new trains and infrastructure.  In addition, the Outlet Centre is looking at some longer-term plans for expansion where accessibility and car parking will be key considerations.

I can reassure residents that the Council and the Outlet Centre are working hard to make sure Swindon stays successful and our cars keep moving.