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Conservative Councillors asked to apologise over demeaning Penhill comments

Councillors Dale Heenan and Richard Hurley have been asked to apologise to the people of Penhill over comments made in a Covingham & Dorcan Conservative leaflet about the area.

In the Conservative leaflet it states:

“In his first 18 months, the Labour Councillor for Covingham & Dorcan:

Wants to build hundreds of Council houses every year- which could lead to a new “Penhill” being built next to Covingham & Liden because the 8000 houses to the East is the main area of future expansion!”

These comments refer to a recent local Labour Group policy announcement to build 300 council homes per year to address the more than 50% decline in new affordable homes being built in Swindon compared to 2009 levels. However the Labour Group have said that they would not build these new homes exclusively in the Eastern Villages development referred to in the leaflet or exclusively to any other new development.

Labour’s Covingham & Dorcan Councillor, Julian Price, said:

“The demeaning and divisive inference made by the Conservative Covingham and Dorcan Councillors about Penhill is frankly shameful and they need to apologise to the people of Penhill over these comments. I think its one thing for them to attack me as a local councillor, however to derogate a whole community in doing so is wildly over-stepping the mark. It shouldn’t be the kind of politics we practice in Swindon and I don’t think it’s the kind of politics that befits the office of a local councillor.

And even if it is now Conservative policy to attack communities with high numbers of social housing, suggesting that I want the Eastern Villages development to be predominantly full of social housing simply isn’t true. I want the Eastern Villages development to be a high quality development with a diverse mix of housing and good infrastructure in place to meet the demands put on Swindon from this development. And if there are 26,000 houses to be built in Swindon until 2026, then I’m not sure why they have said it is the main area of future expansion in Swindon, it is one area of future expansion. I assume this has been done for political reasons.

However, misleading comments about me and my policies are not important, the important thing is that the people of Penhill are apologised to for these shameful comments.”

Julian Price
Covingham & Dorcan Councillor