August is usually a time when the pace of life slows slightly for many of us as breaks are taken. Parliament is in recess, but it has been a phenomenally busy time for me and my constituency team as the hard work continues. I wrote last week about a number of major announcements that the Government and I have made about our police and criminal justice system, and since then I have been working on the ways that we will put our policies into practice as quickly as possible. The review of sentencing that I announced last week has already started, and I am focusing my attention on issues such as support for victims of crime and serious sexual offences such as rape.
My work in Swindon continues apace, as I use the recess to talk to residents and visit local businesses, organisations and charities, as well as holding local advice surgeries.
Living here with my family and having my office on Wood Street enables me to spend a lot of time working in the constituency, as I have done for years. On Saturday, I visited as usual the Wanborough Village and County Show, which had a fantastic array of attractions for all the family. The main attraction was a wonderful display by Horsemen of the Knight, who are a team of professional stunt riders. They have regularly worked in the Film and TV industry on productions such as Game of Thrones. It was quite a sight! In addition to this, there was a vehicle display, a climbing wall and the Companion Dog Show, plus the wonderful local Produce Tent with prizes for a variety of vegetables, cakes and all sorts of food and drink. If you missed it this year, please make sure you visit next year!
Over the last few months, I have been keeping a close eye on the Men's Mental Health Awareness Campaign in Swindon. This is an excellent voluntary awareness campaign, created by a group of dedicated individuals from Swindon, which is designed to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health and the need to open up about it in conversation. The Public Health team at Swindon Borough Council have been working in partnership with a Bristol organisation to raise the profile nationally and are showcasing a documentary in Swindon on 12th September, which will be held at the Swindon Arts Centre. You can find out more about this local campaign on their website.
This week marks six months since Honda announced its closure in Swindon in 2021. When the devastating announcement was made, a special Task Force, led by colleagues in Government and consisting of local and national agencies, was set up firstly to try to convince Honda to stay and then to plan for the future of the site and our highly skilled local workforce. The work continues and I am grateful to Swindon Borough Council Chief Executive, Susie Kemp, for chairing the Steering Group that is pulling together work being done to identify the support that will be needed not only for the directly-employed workforce but those working in the businesses that form part of Honda’s supply chain. I am in regular contact with her and with Honda as to how the site will be marketed and developed and what our ambitions should be for its future. We are agreed that the site must be retained for future industrial and commercial use, and that we must aim at attracting high-skilled and well paid jobs.
Swindon’s superb location, its excellent road and rail links and the quality of our local workforce mean that we are well positioned to attract new investment. Our town has re-invented itself many times over the decades and so we owe it to generations past, present and future to rise to this new challenge