By the end of today, we will have a new Prime Minister. I am very pleased that Theresa May, with her knowledge and experience of government at the highest level, will now steer us through the challenges ahead, delivering the manifesto that we were elected on last year and providing stability and confidence at this critical time. As mentioned in my previous column, I have worked closely with Theresa May on the Investigatory Powers Bill and I think that she has all of the qualities and experience necessary to lead the country.
Moving onto to the subject of transport, I was delighted to join forces with local bus operators Thamesdown Transport and Stagecoach West last week, alongside my colleague Justin Tomlinson MP, to highlight this year’s Catch the Bus Week.
Now in its 4th year, Catch the Bus Week aims to raise awareness of the vast economic, environmental and social benefits of taking the bus. Buses help to generate £64bn per year for local economies and carry more commuters than all other forms of public transport combined. As a local bus user myself, I was pleased to help raise awareness of the benefits of taking the bus and I hope to see the campaign grow from strength to strength in the future, as more and more people see how easy it is to commute by bus.
As your local MP, I have worked hard to make transport in Swindon safe, efficient and fast. Throughout the last Parliament, I helped to secure £100m of investment into local roads and infrastructure, along with funding for a new bus station. A programme to improve major routes in the town is well underway and the £10m improvements planned for Junction 16 of the M4 are due to begin this summer. I will continue to campaign for future improvements such as the Thamesdown Drive extension.
There have been some fantastic local events taking place in Swindon recently. On Saturday, I thoroughly enjoyed watching an impressive collection of classic and modern cars, including Minis, Rovers, Triumph, Daimler and other icons of the British car industry, as they were paraded around the Magic Roundabout.
The parade was organised by Swindon 175, the group behind events celebrating 175 years since the founding of the Swindon GWR works. All of the vehicles involved in the parade had their body panels pressed at the MINI Plant Swindon, formerly Pressed Steel.
As well as celebrating the town’s railway history, the team behind Swindon175 have organised events which have commemorated the town’s industrial heritage over the years. I would like to thank the dedicated organisers who have worked tirelessly to organise a whole range of brilliant local events, bringing people together in order to celebrate the anniversary of Swindon New Town 175 years ago.
The GWR Children’s Fete also took place in Faringdon Road park on Saturday. This wonderful family event, which first took place in Swindon 150 years ago, offered a whole host of entertainment including fun, games, activities and impressive performances from Swindon Dance and Prime Theatre, among other acts.
On Sunday, I attended the Swindon Heritage History Day at the Radnor Street Cemetery. This was another great family event, which brought Swindon’s past back to life. There are many fantastic groups and individuals in Swindon who are working to preserve and promote Swindon’s rich heritage, including Rodbourne Community History Group, Swindon Libraries Local Studies, Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, The Swindon Society, Alfred Williams Heritage Society and Swindon in the Great War, as well as many more. The history day brought together all of the leading experts on the town’s history, who were on hand to answer questions about Swindon’s past.
There was good news for Zurich Insurance last week, as the company was announced as runners up in the APCRG National Responsible Business Champion Awards 2016. I would like to offer my congratulations to all at Zurich, on receiving national recognition for the supportive role that the company plays within the local community, as well at the company’s commitment to promoting a healthy workplace and encouraging diversity and equality.