Robert's Weekly Column - 3rd July 2019

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting some of my constituents who were part of the Climate Change Lobby. They made the trip down to Westminster and we enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion. This was in conjunction with the news that Parliament approved a new law making the UK the first major economy in the world to seek to end our contribution to global warming by 2050 so we can leave the environment in a better state for the next generation. I am very pleased that the UK government is taking a leading role on the global stage to tackle this pressing issue so that we can preserve our much-loved countryside and leave the environment in a better state for the next generation. 

On Friday, I paid a visit to the National Self Build and Renovation Centre to celebrate Employee Owned Day. Located in Swindon, the centre has provided over 200,000 people with solutions to self-building since it opened in 2007. It was interesting to discuss the merits of employee ownership with the team, and I also got a sneak peek of the building centre’s new TV campaign!

The following day, on Saturday, I listened to resident’s concerns on a range of issues during a surgery at Wanborough Village Hall with Councillor Gary Sumner. It is always instructive to hear the views of constituents and to try and work towards a solution to some of the problems Swindon residents may face.

As a Justice Minister, I was pleased to support  the new Children’s Funeral Fund, which aims to ease the financial pressures at one of the most painful times imaginable; the loss of a child. An estimated 3,800 children under the age of 18 die a year, and there are a further 2,700 stillbirths, so it is only right that the government is helping to reduce the financial burden with up to £2,000 to help cover the funeral costs. My good friend Carolyn Harris MP spearheaded the cross-party campaign to implement such a fund, and it is to her son Martin, who died in 1989, the fund is dedicated.

I welcome new figures showing that £500 million has been awarded to small businesses up and down the country, with 73 loans being given to support entrepreneurs in South Swindon – totalling over £727,000. Thanks to the Conservative government’s Start-Up Loans programme, small businesses, which form the backbone of our growing economy, are receiving the support they need to expand and create jobs in our town.

Finally, I was delighted to attend Chiseldon’s annual summer fete at Holy Cross Church. The Wroughton Silver Band did themselves and our community proud, and everyone present thoroughly enjoyed their performance – as did we the wonderful choral singing and of course the traditional teddy bear zip wire and parachuting. An excellent day was made all the better by the beautiful but all too rare sunshine!