We continue to owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the brilliant NHS staff and volunteers who continue to work unbelievably hard to help vaccinate us all. The success of the vaccination drive, along with the fantastic effort by the public to keep to the rules, has meant people in England have seen restrictions start to lift. This week we are all allowed outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the Rule of 6) or two households, making it much easier for friends and families to meet outside. Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and open-air swimming pools, have also been allowed to reopen.
The ‘stay at home’ rule has now ended, but some restrictions remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Together we will get through this and my thanks to you all for continuing to help keep everyone safe.
In other good news for Swindon, Honda has announced that it has entered into a contract for the sale of its Swindon site to Panattoni, Europe’s largest developer of new build industrial and logistics facilities. The news that Honda is selling the site to one of Europe’s biggest industrial developers is encouraging for our town. Over 700 million pounds worth of investment will now be released for new jobs and development that will take our town on to the next generation of growth. I’ll continue to work closely with Honda and with the new developers alongside fellow MP Justin Tomlinson and the Council to make sure that this plan will become a firm reality, offering real hope and support to us in the years ahead. It’s important that the site is used for as wide a variety of enterprise as possible, harnessing Swindon’s high skilled workforce in the technology of the future.
There is a lot of misleading information being spread about reforms to the law of public nuisance and protests contained as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill that I introduced recently. As I explained to the Commons two weeks ago, when it comes to the law of public nuisance, we are simply enacting recommendations made by the independent Law Commission that the existing common law of nuisance be codified and clarified. The current maximum sentence for an offence of causing public nuisance is unlimited; we will limit it to a maximum of ten years. Much is being made of the use of the phrase “serious annoyance” in the Bill as if it was some new departure. This is wholly incorrect. This word has appeared in descriptions of the law for several centuries. When this Bill is passed, which will take months, the law will be clear and easier to use.
As for protests themselves, it is already the case that when it comes to marches and moving protests, the police should be informed about their duration and other details in order to help reduce disruption to other members of the public. This doesn’t currently apply to static protests, which often result in huge disruption and inconvenience to people going about their daily tasks and our emergency services too. The right to freedom of expression is unaffected by these sensible and practical changes. In fact, the rights of the vast majority of the British public to go about their ordinary business will be protected too. Those who are organising opposition to this Bill either haven’t read it or are choosing to manufacture artificial arguments against it.