Robert's Weekly Column - 19 July 2019

On Saturday, I took  part in Swindon Park Run  once again. It was, as usual, an excellent route through beautiful Lydiard Park, which helps me on my journey to preparing for Swindon Half Marathon this September.  The Park Run, which is one of a large number run most Saturday mornings across the country, is a 5km run supported by hundreds of local residents and is a relaxed and enjoyable way to maintain or improve fitness.  For more information please go to (link here). Thanks are due to the volunteers who work so hard to make this event a success.

Later that morning I joined Swindon Hockey Club for their 100th anniversary family day.  The Club will now be operating from the new Deanery CE Academy at Wichelstowe, with its brilliant new all-weather playing facilities.  Justin Tomlinson MP and I supported the Club’s successful lottery funding bid, so Saturday was a day of looking forward to a bright future for the Club.

Having been a cricket fan for years, Sunday’s amazing Cricket World Cup victory by England was a great moment. I hope that it will inspire local youngsters to emulate this success.

Last week, I paid another visit to Excalibur communications, a local business which has grown exponentially over its 25-year history, offering  support and expertise in communications and technology. This time, we discussed Swindon’s Gigabit connectivity capabilities and how it could increase efficiency and productivity for local businesses. Excalibur are Swindon’s only supplier for full fibre connectivity, which allows Swindon to take advantage of ultra-fast connectivity. Their installation costs have been supported by the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. 

In Parliament, I attended a National Lottery 25th Birthday event last week to celebrate the over £26.9 that has been awarded in the South Swindon constituency over 558 projects, over the last 25 years. The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest funder of community activity here in the UK. Last month, Swindon Community Organisations were awarded more than £65,000 in Lottery funding for the quarter. Groups awarded included Headway Swindon, an excellent local charity I have been  involved with over the years who work hard to improve the lives of those living with the effects of brain injury and their families here in Swindon.

This week, the Government announced that schools and colleges in South Swindon will receive priority access to mental health training from October this year. This follows news in December that Swindon would be among the first places in the country to benefit from new Mental Health Support Teams, which link schools and colleges with young people’s mental health service. 

Finally, I am very pleased that Nationwide's £50m 239-home redevelopment of Oakfield Campus has been approved. The redevelopment of Walcot's former Oakfield Campus into a not-for-profit community project will include 239 new homes for sale or rent, with 71 of them designated as affordable housing.