News from Ridgeway Ward



Council commits to carbon neutrality by 2030

- I was the Councillor who proposed this important motion.


Swindon Borough Council has committed to going carbon neutral by 2030 as councillors step up the fight against climate change



At a meeting of the Full Council last night (23 Jan), members unanimously agreed a motion committing the Council to reduce its corporate carbon emissions, with the aim of making the Council’s estate and activities carbon neutral by the end of the decade.

Members voted to ensure the Council’s strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030.

By taking a lead in the climate change movement, it is hoped that the Council can inspire local businesses, residents and other organisations to take a similar approach.

In a show of widespread unity, the motion was supported by the Council’s Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups.

Councillor Gary Sumner, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “I am extremely pleased that this important motion, which demonstrates our commitment to protecting the environment, was passed unanimously by all members last night.

“Climate change is, justifiably, right at the top of the political agenda at the moment, and this Council recognises how important it is for everybody to do their bit for the benefit of present and future generations.

“We sincerely hope that this significant vote will inspire other businesses and organisations to work towards full carbon neutrality. We all have a long way to go but the will and commitment is there and the target has been set.”

The commitment to going carbon neutral by 2030 follows a number of actions the Council has taken in recent months to play its part in protecting the environment.

A special Climate Change Working Group was established last year and quickly began thinking of actions. New parking standards in Planning will require every new house built in the borough to include charging points for electric vehicles; further investments in solar energy have been made; the Council has bought electric vehicles for its corporate fleet; installed electric vehicle charging points on the Civic campus; is investing in LED street lighting to save energy and has introduced a food waste trial to ensure that discarded food is properly disposed of.

Important links with organisations such as the Woodland Trust and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have been forged with plans to increase tree cover across the borough over the next decade.

There is more to do and work has already started on assessing available options, but a carbon neutral Council will be a reality by 2030.


Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor





I was delighted to launch the 'Forest Meadows project' with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust in January.


Councillors Gary Sumner and Maureen Penny, SBC’s Cabinet Members for Strategic Planning and Transport & the Environment respectively, joined WWT’s newly appointed Swindon Reserves Manager Neil Pullen and members of the WWT Wellbeing Programme at Moulden Hill Country Park to discuss how the project will benefit both wildlife and local residents’ wellbeing.

WWT and SBC are currently working at Moulden Hill on a project to enhance biodiversity funded by a grant from Network Rail. This funding comes after recent upgrades to the Great Western Route Modernisation electrification programme and seeks to offset impacts on biodiversity by enhancing habitats elsewhere.

The Forest Meadows Project is a three-year programme funded by SBC through developer contributions and other biodiversity grants. It will enhance the management and wildlife of existing grassland areas, including where possible the reintroduction of wildflowers and more traditional management of the meadows. 

This will benefit a range of species, including pollinators such as bees. Grazing animals may also be introduced on some of the sites to improve biodiversity and aid land management.

The project will link in with existing health and wellbeing groups in Swindon to encourage their members to get involved in a wide range of activities, from the sowing and planting of wildflowers through to the biological monitoring of sites for wildlife such as butterflies and moths.

The project will cover 12 meadow and forest sites within the Borough, which together cover more than 170 hectares. Most of the sites are located along the corridor of the River Ray, but the project will also link to other areas including Sevenfields, the Lawns, Wroughton, Highworth, Penhill, Rodbourne Cheney, and WWT reserves with existing meadows.

WWT will lead the work in collaboration with SBC, parish councils, and local community groups.

Cllr Sumner said of the project’s launch: We are absolutely committed as a Council to improving biodiversity throughout the Borough so we are really pleased to team up with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to deliver the Forest Meadows Project.

“It builds on our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint here in Swindon and ties in nicely with existing tree-planting and wildflower initiatives we have in place as we aim for a greener future.

“I am also extremely pleased this particular project will have a focus on improving people’s health and wellbeing and I look forward to seeing the Forest Meadows making a real difference to the lives of local people in years to come.

WWT’s Neil Pullen said: I’m really looking forward to starting work in Swindon later this month. Thanks to projects such as the Great Western Community Forest, large areas of green space and corridors can be found in parts of Swindon Borough. There are also many people within the Borough who have expertise or willingness to get involved; the Forest Meadows project will be another outlet for them to be able to get outdoors and make a difference for wildlife and their local community.”

Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor



Gas main replacements 2019/20

- Wanborough, Liddington, Badbury


Some essential information below on Wanborough road closures as a result of the Wales & West gas main replacement programme (updated from when I met the programme controller earlier this week 25/2) to discuss Wanborough, Liddington and Badbury works.






Ridgeway Ward residents let me know if you have any questions:


Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor





The final £19m required to deliver the Southern Connector Road was secured on Friday 1st November thanks to Robert Buckland MP who has championed this essential project as necessary to deliver homes but also to prevent rat running & traffic in Wanborough, Bishopstone, Liddington and Covingham, as well as a host of other areas.


This single carriageway Highway will include cycle and pedestrian routes from The New Eastern Villages (NEV) at the Wanborough Road to Commonhead Roundabout. This new highway will eventually take about 1/3rd of the residential traffic from the NEV but delivered ahead of development will be transformational for the surrounding areas.


This is a fantastic benefit for our residents!


Ridgeway Ward residents let me know if you have any questions:


Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor




We carried out our final tree planting at ‘Manners Wood’, Pack Hill, Wanborough in November.


This site was purchased by Swindon Borough Council and we have worked with the ‘Woodland Trust’ to plant and manage the new woodland. I have worked closely with landscape and tree officers at SBC to deliver this site.


This was my third planting event here (of the 4000 plus trees) and having personally asked Wanborough Primary School to get involved on the second planting I was pleased to extend this invitation to local residents for the final planting.


For safety reasons I was asked to get interest and details from all of those attending but we still had a few odd ones turning up on the day!


It was gratifying to see a couple of Parish Council representatives (only one was actually expected) turn up with other residents to help out on the final day.


Tree planting is about both the environment, planning for the future and understanding of our place in the world and the mark we will leave behind.


I will be very supportive if the Parish Council want to use some of their own funds to locate land, fund and plant the trees for our future. Instead of expensive building plans, this would say a lot more about care for the environment and support for climate change measures.



Working positively with Parish Councils


I volunteer with Community Speedwatch in Liddington and following residents and Parish Council's concerns about speeding motorists, I arranged a meeting with a senior SBC Highways manager & Parish Councillors (ironically on a July morning this year when the M4 was closed due to an accident)! 

We discussed crossing safety, speeds and signage and the potential location for Parish Council funded flashing speed signs.


Ridgeway Ward residents let me know if you have any questions:


Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor

We planted 4000 trees at 'Manners Wood', Pack Hill, Wanborough in the AONB in February 2019


Together with the Woodland Trust, staff from Nationwide Building Society and the Landscape team at Swindon Borough Council we planted 4000 trees in land aquired by SBC alongside an existing woodland scheme in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Pack Hill, Wanborough.


Staff and pupils from Years 3&4 at Wanborough Primary were able to join us and Nationwide were good enough to lay on the coach to get them there and back safely! They were incredibly enthusiastic planters and trees were planted so quickly that more had to be brought to site! They will watch this special new woodland grow and know they helped create it in 2019.


I have arranged that there will be an opportunity for the pupils and other residents who wish to be involved to do a further planting here in November and I will update you about specific dates nearer the time.


Ridgeway Ward residents let me know if you have any questions:


Gary Sumner – your Ridgeway Ward Councillor






As the proposed 'Science Park' immediately adjoins the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty I thought I would share a useful extract from: 



(Development Affecting the Setting of the North Wessex Downs AONB)


1. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are designated by the Government for the purpose of ensuring that the special qualities of our finest landscapes are conserved and enhanced. In planning policy terms they have the same status as National Parks.


2. The primary purpose of the North Wessex Downs AONB is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB. The AONB also has secondary purposes to increase awareness and understanding of the special qualities of the AONB, to take account of the needs of agriculture, forestry and other rural industries and to foster the social and economic well being of local communities and those who live and work in the area.


3. The setting of the North Wessex Downs AONB can be explained as being the surroundings outside the AONB and although outside its boundary its extent is not fixed and may change over time. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the AONB, it may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral. For the purposes of spatial planning, any development or change capable of affecting the significance of the AONB or people’s experience of it can be considered as falling within its setting.


4. The surroundings of the North Wessex Downs AONB are also important to its landscape character and quality. Views out of the AONB and views towards or into it from surrounding areas can be very significant. Development proposals that affect views into and out of the AONB need to be carefully assessed to ensure that they conserve and enhance the natural beauty and landscape character of the AONB.




Gary Sumner

Ridgeway Ward



Tel: 01793 790814


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