Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 28 July 2017

Parliament dissolved for summer recess last week, which gives me the opportunity to spend more of my time here in Swindon, meeting with local residents and organisations, helping out with local campaigns and seeing more of my family.

The Bowl in the Old Town Gardens regularly hosts concerts and community events, but unfortunately has fallen into disrepair in recent years. Swindon 105.5 Manager Shirley Ludford, after being shocked by the state of place, put out the call for volunteers to help with the big clean up. Claire Ellis, Conservative Councillor for Old Town and Nicholas Burns-Howell, a local Parish Councillor and I were delighted to come and support this and make a difference to the community. Cllr Claire put in a lot of effort to make this happen and it was fantastic to lend a helping hand in beginning to restore this 1930s landmark back to its former glory. A special thank you to all the local residents who came to help and to Nanogreen Cleaning for providing their time and expertise.

In further local news, the Swindon Delivery Office, from Sunday 30 July, will be permanently open on Sundays for customers to collect undelivered mail items. The opening times are between 11am and 3pm.

The Government announced on Tuesday new measures to put a stop to unfair practices in the sale of leasehold homes. Leasehold ownership can make sense when it is used for individual flats in a block. However, far too many new houses are now being built and sold in this way, potentially exploiting homebuyers with unfair agreements and spiralling ground rents.

These practices are unjust, unnecessary, and need to stop. That’s why today the Government is putting forward changes that will help make sure leasehold works in the best interests of homebuyers, including moving to ban the sale of new build leasehold homes except in exceptional circumstances, consulting on measures to cap ground rents on new leases to small ‘peppercorn’ payments, and asking how we can best support existing leaseholders.

This announcement makes good on our manifesto commitment and is all part of our plan to fix our broken housing market.

A plan to give homes and businesses more control over their energy use and support innovative new technologies, as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, has been announced by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark. Over a quarter of the UK’s electricity is being generated through renewables such as wind and solar, much of it located close to homes and businesses.

When it comes to green initiatives, I am delighted that Swindon continues to lead the way. Back in February, Swindon Borough Council launched the first ever Solar Bond, allowing people to invest in the new solar farm at Wroughton. The Bonds, issued jointly by Swindon Borough Council and investment company Abundance, have sold out a month early and have set a benchmark in innovation for other local authorities across the country to fund renewable energy and other infrastructure projects to boost the green economy.

As the local MP for South Swindon for the past seven years, I have dealt with over 17,000 pieces of casework. If you have any local or national issues that you would like to discuss with me, please get in contact with me either by phoning 01793 533393 or emailing me at