Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 18th May 2016

As your local MP, I have worked hard to make transport within Swindon safe, efficient and fast, so I was pleased to learn that the £10m improvements planned for Junction 16 of the M4 will begin this summer. As part of a local growth fund which I helped to secure, work will begin to transform the junction for West Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett after the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) approved the scheme. The infrastructure funding also includes improvements to J15, which will be made over the next few years. I am keen to help ensure that they are done as soon as possible to reduce the problem of congestion and rat running in the local area.

Throughout the last Parliament, I helped to secure £100 million of investment into local roads and infrastructure, along with funding for a new bus station. A programme to improve major routes into the town, to keep pace with the future development of the New Eastern Villages, is well underway and I will continue to campaign for future improvements such as the Thamesdown Drive extension.

I was very concerned to learn of the recent Public Health England figures which show that 27.9 per cent of children in Swindon under the age of five have tooth decay.  This is a worrying figure and I do think that we should be active on it. Across the country, the rate of tooth decay in children under the age of five is falling, but it remains a big problem. 

As part of the budget in March, I welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry so they reduce the sugar content of their product. The money raised from this will benefit school children in South Swindon by doubling sports funding in primary schools and funding longer school days for children in secondary schools, which will offer pupils a wider range of activities, including extra sport.

As your local MP, I work hard to enhance our local NHS so that all residents receive an even higher standard of local service. I have written to Dr Peter Crouch, Chair of the Swindon Clinical Group to see what more can be done to tackle the problem of tooth decay in Swindon.

Speaking of health, I believe that nurses are a vital part of our local NHS and strongly believe that everyone with the qualifications and commitment to undertake a nursing degree should have the chance to do. I welcome the Government’s recent announcement that a fairer system is being created which will open up access nursing, midwifery and associated health subjects to young people in South Swindon.

Under the current system, degree places and bursaries are paid for by the NHS and the number of places are limited to according to what the NHS needs and can afford in the short term. These limits have prevented two in every three young people who want to be a nurse from doing so.  That is why the Government is creating a fairer system – no longer will so many young people in Swindon who want to do a nursing degree be told that they have to do another degree instead – one which is not their first choice and for which they will have to pay tuition fees.

This change is expected to deliver up to 10,000 additional nursing and other health professional training places over the next five years. This is a huge advantage to the NHS, which has had to rely on expensive agency nurses and staff from overseas in order to compensate for a lack of UK-trained professionals.

If you would like to make an appointment to raise a local or national issue with me, please do not hesitate to contact my office on 01793 533393 or send an email to