At about the same time as our school terms ended for the summer, the House of Commons’ sittings have also ended until September. The Recess is often wrongly described as a “holiday”, but the reality for me and most MPs is that we carry on working in our constituencies, making visits to organisations and meeting residents. This summer, as usual, I will be in Swindon carrying out my responsibilities whilst also being able to see a bit more of my family. As part of my Half Marathon preparation, it is also great to be able to enjoy Coate Water and Lydiard Park, albeit at a running pace!
The Prime Minister is currently in South East Asia, accompanied by British business leaders, to discuss trade deals and encourage greater economic ties with one of the largest single markets in the world. Among the first trade missions in the new Parliament is a planned visit to Vietnam, which will make David Cameron the first British Prime Minister visit the country. The Prime Minister made in part of his speech yesterday, calling for a global effort to tackle the ‘great enemy of progress’ – corruption.
Corruption is one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time. When it comes to tackling corruption, however, the international community has looked the other way for too long. The government wants Britain to be the most open country in the world for investment, but we must ensure the UK does not become a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world.
That’s why the conservative government has already legislated to establish a public central registry of beneficial ownership and established the automatic exchange of tax information, but there is more to do. Today, the Prime Minister announced the government’s plans to go further by making property ownership by foreign companies much more transparent, publishing data on which foreign companies own which land and property, and examining whether there is a case for insisting foreign companies bidding on government contracts publicly state who really owns it.
There is no place for dirty money in Britain. This Government is on the side of working people who play by the rules, and together we can defeat corruption in all its forms, ensuring greater security and prosperity for people in Britain and every part of the world.
Closer to home, I am very pleased to see that work has started on the demolition of the car park next to the Bus Station in the Town Centre. I have had debates with some who like the brutalist architecture of this building, but my strong feeling is that a change was needed. With £3m of Government funding, a new Bus Terminal can now be built. I hope that we can make some swift progress in order to ensure that the entire site at Carfax is redeveloped soon.
I am very supportive of the new Local Plan, agreed recently by the Council after having been approved by the Planning Inspectorate. This gives everyone certainty and clarity when it comes to future development over the next ten years, which is why I am frankly irritated by speculative applications to build on land that has not been allocated for development in the Local Plan. We see examples of this at Berkeley Farm in Wroughton and now next to Tewkesbury Way at Lydiard, just over the border into Wiltshire. My message is simple: stick to the Local Plan! Residents deserve better than this.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate Dave Woods of Swindon’s Local Community Radio 105.5 for his incredible achievement of cycling 100 miles whilst also presenting his radio show. Thanks to the generosity of local residents, he has managed to beat his fund raising target after months of training for this monumental challenge.
As ever, I am holding a number of regular advice surgeries both in my new Wood Street office and also around South Swindon in places like Waitrose in Wichel and the Brunel Centre. So if you have any local or national issues that you’d like to discuss with me, please get on touch on 01793 533393. I look forward to hearing from you!