After two long years of absence, I was delighted to attend Chiseldon’s annual fete at Holy Cross Church last Saturday. I have been a regular visitor to the fete over the years, and I have fond memories of attending the Fete in 2019 and stepping in at the last moment to sing a few choruses. Like many local residents, I am pleased to see the return of local events such as this one, which we can all, once again, enjoy alongside our families, friends, and neighbours. Despite the wet weather, everyone made the best of things.
I also thoroughly enjoyed JPT Trust’s Summer Gala performance of ‘Creating Swindon The Opera’ at STEAM on Sunday evening, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and celebrate ten years of the brilliant ‘Swindon The Opera’ which I helped with back in 2012 by being a member of the auditions panel. Talents like Polly Leech and William Pearson, both singing at Garsington Opera and with international opera companies, were in the original cast and it was great to see librettist Matt Fox who was such an inspiration, together with the great Betty Roe MBE who sent her best wishes. Thanks to Janice Thompson, our compere, as ever for her tireless work in the field of music and culture in Swindon. It was great to see so many local people enjoying the performance.
Many of us here in Swindon have loved spending time at the Oasis Leisure Centre over the years, including my own family, so I am extremely keen to do all I can to help with the efforts to get this important and much-loved community amenity reopened. I am pleased that Swindon Borough Council has made a bid for funding from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, and last week, I wrote a letter of support for the Levelling Up Fund bid for the restoration of the Oasis Leisure Centre, as a vibrant leisure destination serving the residents of Swindon Borough and beyond.
The bid for funding will help to offset the significant viability gap in the cost of refurbishing this much-loved community asset following the listing of the dome and swimming pool last year. The bid benefits from £8m in private match sector funding, which represents great value for money for the public purse. The scheme is also at an advanced stage of design and can be brought forward rapidly upon confirmation of funding.
Following the news last week that Wiltshire Police is among the six police forces in England currently under special measures, I spoke with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, and Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Crime and Policing. I am glad that after five years of increases funded locally, and through the Government’s national uplift campaign, the budget put forward for 2022/23 will mean that the number of police officers on our streets is set to rise to 1,165 here in Wiltshire. I will continue to work closely with our police force to ensure that local residents receive a better and improved service from the police, with improved outcomes and more visibility.
Finally, as demand on our country increases, due to the aftereffects of the Covid pandemic, and Vladimir Putin’s abhorrent invasion of Ukraine, pushing prices up all around the world, I am glad that the government is taking action. From this Wednesday, the National Insurance Threshold will rise overnight from £9,880 to £12,570. This is the single biggest tax cut in a decade. Other measures the government has taken so far, include a council tax rebate, a cut in fuel duty, at least £400 for every household to help with energy bills, and at least £1,200 for the eight million most vulnerable households across the UK. The government has also announced that the Universal Credit taper rate will be cut. You can find out what it means for you by visiting : https://costoflivingsupport.campaign.gov.uk/ Swindon Borough Council has also compiled a helpful webpage here: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20013/benefits_and_swindon_money_matters/1260/help_if_youre_struggling_with_living_costs