If you turn on the news, log on to your computer, or pick up a newspaper you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing happening in the world except for Brexit.
It’s understandable. As I write my column this week, there are just 15 weeks to go until we leave the European Union on 29 March.
The Prime Minister has been relentless in seeking to deliver Brexit, even with Parliamentary numbers stacked in favour of those who want to frustrate, delay and block Brexit. She has remained focused, determined and courteous throughout, and that is why I was 100% behind her during Wednesday night’s vote.
I was greatly encouraged by just how many emails I received for fellow local residents showing their support for the PM. It is clear the public (rightly) want us to get on with the job we were all elected to do, and I absolutely will be.
The PM has listened to Parliament, paused the vote on the Brexit deal, and committed to getting further legal clarity from the EU on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop at a special summit which concludes today. She will make a statement to Parliament on Monday, and we will vote on the deal in January.
But away from the negotiations & the political theatre in Westminster there are plenty of other things going on that are important to our town.
When lobbying Government Ministers for investment local residents get two for the price of one as my South Swindon colleague, Robert Buckland MP, and I work together to ensure our town is at the front of the queue for new funding.
This week Ministers have confirmed that police funding across Swindon & Wiltshire will increase by £9.1 million next year, while Swindon will get an above-average, above-inflation 3.4% increase in Local Government Funding. On both of these issues, we have been focused on feeding in the concerns & ideas of staff & local residents, and this has clearly paid off.
It’s also why I was delighted when last Friday the Health Secretary announced support to expand the services on offer at the Great Western Hospital.
Earlier this year the Prime Minister announced that as part of the health service’s 70th birthday, we would set out a long-term plan to build on our record funding by investing an extra £20.4 billion a year in the NHS by the 2023.
This new £30 million funding will deliver a much-needed state-of-the-art facility where patients can get access to the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time in a modern Transitional Care Facility and expanded Emergency Department at the GWH.
This fantastic news for patients comes as we hear that the Brighter Futures Radiotherapy Centre appeal has reached its £2.9 million target. One in two people will be affected by cancer, and this new facility in our town will be life-changing people experiencing cancer, as well as their friends and family.
Robert & I lobbied the Chief Executive of NHS England to secure the initial funding, and since then I’ve hosted plenty of fundraising activities including a photography and events at my community office.
I can’t thank people for this fantastic effort. Every pound donated means so much. It’s truly overwhelming that so many people have worked so hard to contribute and make the new centre a reality. Everyone in our town should be very proud.