Robert's Weekly Article - 23rd May 2019

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Swindon Powertrain, an excellent company with specialist engineering expertise, which amongst other things specialises in electric conversions. Their latest project has seen them take the Classic Mini car and convert in to an electric battery-powered vehicle.  They stripped out the original engine and fuel system and replaced it with an electric motor, compact battery pack and a charging socket. On top of this, they have also included new mod cons such as heated leather seats, heated windscreens and air conditioning. The production of the car will be limited to just 100 units, but it is an interesting look into what will be the future of car manufacture.  The Government is investing hundreds of millions into new motor technology, and the work done by Swindon Powertrain on engines for motorsports is an example of how U.K. companies are leading the way in research and development.  

I was also very pleased to see the first part of Swindon Town FC Community Foundation's £2.4m redevelopment of land at the County Ground opened for business this week with the new 4G sports pitches. This is a project I have been happy to support.  Following a lengthy period of fund-raising, the Foundation secured planning permission to build the new purpose built sporting hub in March 2018. Construction of the facility began in early February 2019

In my new role as a Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice I am pleased that we have now set out our blueprint for the future of probation. This will see all offender management brought under the National Probation Service (NPS) to help build on existing work to bring down reoffending. The reforms will provide up to £280 million a year for probation interventions from the private and voluntary sectors. This will help harness the skills of private and voluntary providers and draw on the expertise of the NPS to boost rehabilitation, improve standards and ultimately increase public safety. 

Under the new model, each NPS region will have a dedicated, private or voluntary sector ‘Innovation Partner’ - responsible for direct provision of unpaid work and accredited programmes. This will support NPS to identify, encourage and deliver greater innovation for vital services, including substance misuse programmes, training courses, community payback and housing support. The reforms announced on Thursday were designed to build on the "successful elements" of the existing system, which led to 40,000 additional offenders being supervised every year.

Finally, I would like to welcome the new mayor of Swindon, Councillor Kevin Parry. I wish Kevin and his wife Barbara, who I have known for years, all the best in this new role. He works for Honda and knows exactly what our town needs as we move forward through this difficult period. I am confident he will fly the flag brilliantly for Swindon.  As his charities, he has chosen CALM - the Childhood Cancer and Leukaemia Movement and the Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children’s Society.  I would like to thank outgoing Mayor, Cllr Junab Ali, for his hard work in representing Swindon so well.