Robert's Weekly Column - Wednesday 30th January 2019

There was a wonderful atmosphere at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital on Friday as I joined hundreds of people from the local community to celebrate Brighter Futures hitting its £2.9 million fundraising target. I particularly enjoyed the performance by Swindon Rock Choir, as well as Brighter Futures Patron, Rory Bremner’s excellent impression of Donald Trump.

Like many people in our town, I have been involved in fundraising events for the appeal, such as the Gingerbread Fun Run and a Music Marathon at Immanuel Church in Old Walcot. The support that this campaign has received from thousands of fundraisers is a reflection of the strong sense of community spirit that exists here in Swindon and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved.

The new radiotherapy unit will save around 700 Swindon patients a year from a gruelling 70-mile round trip for treatment at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. Building work is set to begin later this year and it is expected to be completed and open to patients by the end of 2020.

I was very pleased to meet staff and pupils at Churchward School and Headlands Campus last week. Both are part of the Brunel SEN MAT, a 0-25 Multi Academy Trust, which was established in 2016 and includes six special education needs provisions.  I was pleased to hear more about the excellent work that the trust is carrying out here in Swindon to improve education, life chances and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

Our quality of life and the state of the environment around us continues to grow in importance and there are many initiatives who play an important role in protecting our future, which is why I am pleased to play my part in supporting the work of Swindon Climate Action Network.  I met with members here at my offices in Wood Street last week, to discuss the Environment Bill and the Local Waste Strategy and how this can be improved. I am pleased that here in Swindon, we are leading the way by working towards installing England’s first Advanced Plastic Recycling Facility, but more needs to be done to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use, which is causing suffering to animals and damaging vital habitats.

There was good news for the economy last week, as the Chancellor welcomed new ONS figures, which showed that Government borrowing in the current financial year-to-date is at the lowest level in 16 years.  The Government is on track with the plan to reduce the deficit and as we prepare to leave the EU, the Government is determined to ensure that Britain remains a great place to do business.

As I write my column this week, The Prime Minister is continuing to speak to speak to politicians across all parties and the wider community, to get the broadest possible consensus on Brexit.   Yesterday, there was further debate but it is clear to me and many others that in order for negotiations to be successful, then we need to combine around a positive plan.  I have been working on a possible way forward with fellow MPs such as Jacob Rees Mogg and Nicky Morgan to achieve just that and will do all I can to help deliver a working Brexit that gives maximum certainty to our businesses and citizens.  Now is the time for politicians to come together and be constructive.