Robert's Weekly Swindon Adver Article - 23rd November 2017

I was delighted to see a full house at the Wyvern Theatre on Sunday evening as the Kentwood Choir and Albourne Band performed in a fundraising concert in aid of Hope for Children.

Kentwood's Christmas Cracker Concert featured a fantastic range of music from White Christmas, The Armed Man, Sound of Music, Scrooge and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I was delighted to be invited to perform 'O Holy Night' and the highlight of the evening for me was listening to the talented Community Choir as they sang a variety of Christmas classics.

Hope for Children focuses on children living on the streets. The aim of the charity is to enable vulnerable children to experience a positive childhood by improving their access to education and healthcare whilst empowering their families to support themselves.

The charity Started 25 years ago and last year helped more than 37,000 children through projects in Ghana, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Africa, Asia and the UK.

I would like to thank Kentwood Choir Founder and Musical Director, Sheila Harrod and the rest of the organisers who worked tirelessly to put on such a fantastic concert.

I would like to remind parents in my constituency with children who will turn three by the end of December, that they need to apply now for their eligibility code if they would like to take up a 30-hour childcare place for their children in the January term.

Extending the 15 hours of free childcare a week to 30 hours for working parents of three and four-year-olds was a key Conservative manifesto pledge and I am further pleased that this week, Tax-Free Childcare will be rolled out to parents whose youngest child is under six. Parents can use the childcare calculator to check their childcare options and apply online through the childcare service, which can both be accessed at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

I am pleased that this initiative will save working parents in my constituency around £5000 per year per child, helping them to balance their jobs and family lives. This offer is backed by the government’s record investment of £6 billion per year in childcare, which includes an extra £1 billion per year by 2020 to deliver the free entitlements. High-quality childcare not only helps our children get the best start in life, it supports many parents who want or need to work.

Finally, I am glad that the government has announced further measures to protect bees as part of the National Pollinator Strategy.

Following a new report by the government's advisory body on pesticides, which revealed growing evidence that Neonicotinoids harm bee populations, a decision has been made to back further restrictions.

Bees and other pollinators play an essential role in our food production and are vital to the diversity of our environment. There are 1,500 species of insect pollinator in the UK, and I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to protect them.

The National Pollinator Strategy lays out plans to improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity, and role of pollinators, and identify any additional actions that will need to be taken. It also sets out new work to be done immediately, building on longer-term initiatives that were already underway.