As a community, we are rightly proud of Swindon's long-standing links with the armed services, so last week, I was honoured to plant a cross representing South Swindon in Parliament’s Constituency Garden of Remembrance. I was also pleased to take part in the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Challenge bike ride in Parliament, although, after five minutes of peddling like mad, I was in a far worse state than when I started, nonetheless, I completed the challenge and that is what is important.
Here in Swindon, I was honoured to take part in the Armistice Day Service of Commemoration at the Cenotaph on Saturday. On Remembrance Sunday, I attended the Radnor Street Chapel Service of Remembrance, which is always special because Scouts, Guides, Cubs, and even younger children lay their crosses around the memorial as part of the wreath laying ceremony. After the service, a memorial to local military historian and heritage enthusiast Mark Sutton was unveiled by his family. This is a wonderful reminder of a man who cared deeply about the history of Swindon and who did so much to help restore the Chapel and make it a hub for local heritage. Thank you, Mark.
I am very pleased and relieved that the new Post Office has now opened at the West Swindon District Centre. Along with Cllr Suresh Gattapur, who represents Shaw ward, I have worked hard with the Post Office for many months now to find a solution to restore this important facility at the heart of the community. At long last, we now have some stability for the Post Office service at the West Swindon Centre. When it comes to important issues like this, I will continue to work hard to represent local residents here in South Swindon. Further details about the services available at the new Post Office, as well as the opening hours can be found by visiting West Swindon Centre Post Office | Wiltshire | SN5 7DL
I am delighted to hear that the next stage in the restoration and regeneration of the old GWR Carriage Works is set to go ahead, now that planning permission has been granted. Back in August 2020, I welcomed the news that South Swindon would benefit from £4 million of Conservative Government investment as part of the Getting Building Fund. So far, part of the Victorian works has been converted into the Workshed – an important business facility, which is working hard to support small and new businesses here in Swindon, particularly those working in the digital sector. The Grade II listed Carriage Works has also become home to the Royal Agricultural University’s Cultural Heritage Institute, and the Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies – a joint venture between Bath and Oxford Universities.
I recently visited the new Create Studios in the Carriage Works. This superb new space is allowing Create to do so much more in terms of film production and working with the local community and our young people. This is all thanks to funding from the Arts Council and money from the Government’s Town Fund, which I helped to secure a few years back.
Survey works will now be carried out at the Carriage Works on the West Shed, which is situated past the pedestrian underpass and closer to the Mechanics’ Institute so that the next phase of regeneration can get started. I am very pleased that the Conservative Government funding, which I helped to secure, is being used to restore this important part of our town’s history.
Finally, my local charity of the week is the brilliant Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM), which was first set up as a user-led organisation in 1995. SAM has developed a reputation locally for being passionate about the rights of vulnerable people, standing up for their human rights and enabling them to have choices and control over their lives. In 2014, SAM were awarded the Swindon Borough Council contract to provide statutory advocacy services under the Mental Care Act, The Mental Capacity Act, and the Care Act. Since then, the charity has successfully sourced funding for and delivered many excellent community-based advocacy services such as Project Boost, the Community Based Mental Health Project, and Walk In My Shoes. For further information on SAM and how you can support their work please visit www.swindonadvocacy.org.uk/