The dissatisfaction of residents with Labour over our town centre runs deep...
Our campaign to save Slough High Street is not one born of mere disregard for the way Labour are in Slough - it is completely justified in the face of their actions during their time running the council over the last 10 years.
Over that 10 year period, there has been a litany of errors in the way they have managed development proposals, vague news releases and spin about their vision for the High Street and 'jam tomorrow' announcements that have resulted in very little action actually materialising to improve our town centre.
You only have to take a look back over 10 years to see that in that time Labour has promised the earth and delivered very little when it comes to regenerating and renewing our high street... and the bad news just keeps on coming:
- February 2009 - Plans to link Queensmere and Observatory unveiled
- April 2009 - Beer lovers join fight to save Slough pubs
- May 2009 - Slough High Street revamp hit by delay again as Labour hit failure early in the timeline
- May 2010 - Labour election manifesto promises to 'Make major investment to start delivering the Heart of Slough'
- May 2012 - Labour promises 'major investment' in town centre in its election manifesto
- July 2012 - £100m town centre plans will create shopping hotspot to rival Windsor
- July 2012 - Council leader welcomes town centre investment after ambitious £100m plans
- April 2013 - Damning verdict on 'quality' shops hope for Slough High Street
- August 2013 - First phase of masterplan to build more than 900 homes above Queensmere Shopping Centre given go ahead (and nothing has since happened, 6 years on...)
- May 2014 - Labour makes more promises in its 2014 election manifesto to establish a 'town team' to revitalise Slough's town centre
- May 2015 - Labour election manifesto simply states it will 'improve Slough High Street' and again lists all the wonderful things it had promised to do for the last 7 years
- December 2015 - Green light for ‘game changer’, this being yet another in a long line of many 'game changer' announcements to have happened in the course of 10 years
- May 2016 - Labour election manifesto promises to 'Support the continued regeneration of Slough Town Centre'
- September 2016 - Reassurances made after Topshop becomes latest to leave Slough
- November 2016 - New owners for Slough's Queensmere and Observatory centres, as Qatari developers purchase the sites
- March 2017 - Slough Borough Council reveals massive redevelopment scheme planned for Thames Valley University site (and nothing has progress since)
- March 2017 - Council accused of 'sabotaging' plans to make Slough the world's first 'Smart City'
- June 2017 - CONFIRMED: Marks and Spencer will leave Slough town centre in July
- July 2017 - Double whammy - as Next pulls out of Slough
- September 2017 - Queensmere Observatory shopping centre to be demolished and rebuilt, councillors confirm (yes, yet more plans and re-announcements...)
- September 2017 - Slough High Street 'will improve' with new shopping centre
- May 2018 - Labour makes more promises in its election manifesto to 'spread the benefits of town centre regeneration', we ask what regeneration they might be talking about...
- September 2018 - Cllr Martin Carter promises 'big news' on the town centre redevelopment by end of the year
- September 2018 - Labour press release boasts of 'flower pots' and 'new lamp post banners' in their 'town centre action plan'
- November 2018 - Labour decides it needs to ask residents their views on the town centre, 10 years after taking control of the council
- December 2018 - Santa clearly doesn't come to bring 'big news' by the end of the year for Cllr Martin Carter...
- February 2019 - Labour councillor criticises Slough Borough Council's development of the high street, as Cllr Martin Carter is forced to defend the actions of the council yet again, with no real answers
This horrific timeline of failure means that Slough Labour have allowed:
- Slough to fall behind every other town in the UK, moving from 57th in 2008 to 163rd in 2018 in the national index of shopping destinations - despite the well documented challenges with retailers and the high street. Even the councils own monitoring report highlighted it in 2017.
- Our town centre economy to lose money and jobs to other local towns, as shown by a study commissioned for Reading Council measuring the size of Slough's retail economy £412m in April 2016, but highlighting it loses around half of that to outside of the borough. This neglect is costing residents jobs.
- Retailers and partners to lose faith and confidence in Slough, in the face of years of lack of progress in our town regeneration, as highlighted by the damning feedback from a company who had plans to make our town the world’s first ‘wireless gigabit and Smart City' but withdrew because of lack of interest from Slough Labour.
- A 'Brain Drain' of our talented young people away from Slough, who have to move away to study at university as council plans to resurrect higher education in Slough continue to go from promise to promise, but inevitably end up with nothing materialising. Our town is poorer without the young people who grow up here.
The truth is - that despite well known challenges with retailing and high streets - Slough Labour has spent 10 years cooking up plans and proposals, none of which have gone anywhere. In the meantime, Slough residents are left with a run-down high street that means for most purposes they must go outside of the borough – to towns like Bracknell, whose council has transformed the town centre into a place people really want to visit and live.
We believe enough is enough - residents deserve so much better, and it is time for them to to fully disclose what is going on with the existing proposals, what their plan is to move things forward and what impact further delays will have on our local economy - or move aside and let others take control.
We are asking residents to make their voice heard and sign our petition so that we can try to bring an end to 10 years of failure.
Slough Conservative Association