Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 16th September 2015

Since he was elected as the new Labour leader with almost 60% share of the party vote on Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn has dominated the news headlines. On Monday, the rebellious 66 year-old assumed his position on the front bench in the House of Commons for the first time, alongside his newly appointed shadow cabinet.

A real choice is opening up to voters of the next general election in 2020, and I would like to congratulate Jeremy on his election victory. I am concerned, however, that Labour’s leftward lurch could lead our country back to more welfare, more borrowing and more taxes.

This rise in debt and taxes would mean less money in working people’s pay packets, fewer jobs and a weaker economy. This country has come a long way since the mess left behind by Labour in 2010, and I do not want to see us revisit a period of unstainable policies and unfunded spending.

At the moment, the Labour Party is a very broad church (eight shadow ministers resigned from Labour’s front bench within minutes of Mr Corbyn’s victory). It will be interesting to see which of the new leader’s radical policies, like scrapping nuclear weapons altogether and leaving NATO, or re-nationalizing Britain’s railways, will form part of Labour’s new election manifesto in the next few years.   

In local news, I am delighted that the long overdue redevelopment of Old Town’s Locarno building appears to be moving a step closer to fruition. The beautiful grade II listed building, which is owned by Swindon Corn Exchange Ltd, has been derelict for more than ten years, and I have been speaking to local residents for many years who are concerned about it’s future.

Swindon Borough Council Chiefs believe plans for a hotel, restaurants and apartments on the site, with new surrounding buildings, could be submitted early next year. I know that this area has great potential, and I hope that an agreement can finally be reached which will breathe new life into one of our town’s most iconic buildings.

It’s also been great to see Swindon opening its doors to some new and exciting businesses recently. The owners of Yume, next to Regent Circus, have just opened a new oriental-themed eatery/bar in Godwin Court in Old Town, which looks fantastic. It’s located just behind my constituency office, so I’m sure I’ll be popping in soon to see what’s on offer.

The atmosphere at the Old Bank on Wood Street was buzzing on Sunday for the launch of a new Aurora Wellbeing Centre in Swindon. Aurora centres offer a range of support to cancer sufferers and their families, in addition to wellbeing programmes and beauty treatments.

I pay tribute to the work of Aurora and other charities/organisations supporting people with this terrible disease. Next month I’ll be running the Swindon half-marathon to raise money for ‘CALM’ (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement), as well as ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ which offers respite care for children and young adults with disabilities and special educational needs. I am proud to be raising money for two fantastic local charities which are committed to the care and support of children, young adults, and their families in Swindon.

I hope that you were watching the skies last Tuesday for Swindon’s flypast to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. Let us never forget the utmost bravery of our Royal Air Force pilots who fought and lost their lives to defend Britain against a seemingly unstoppable military power all those years ago.

To residents who attended my stand at the Wroughton Late Summer Picnic last Saturday, my thanks. The sun shone brightly on what was a beautiful afternoon at Willow Brook Gardens for Vision4Wroughton’s 4th annual picnic. I’ll continue to hold regular advice surgeries on Friday’s in various locations around Swindon. Give my constituency office on Wood Street a call if you would like more information on 01793 533393, or email me at