Last Updated: 24 November 2010
Created: 24 November 2010
I was delighted to see another fall in unemployment in North Swindon. The latest figures are 823 lower than this time last year, and a reduction of 102 since last month. Whilst there is still much to do, the signs are encouraging and we will continue to do all we can to stabilise the economy, support and encourage new businesses and create more job opportunities in the town.
With job creation in mind, I took part in a Parliamentary debate on business rates this week. I am keen to see greater flexibility brought into the rates system. For example, where an office or retail unit has been empty for a period of time, I think there should be some flexibility to allow start-up businesses to take up the premises at a reduced rate, which again would encourage new employment opportunities. I am conscious that money is tight; we are spending £120 million a day just to pay off the nation’s debt interest. However I am keen to see that we regularly review all the incentives we have put in place to create new jobs, and perhaps if an area isn’t working this could become a proposal for consideration.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from the English Outdoor Council, who are advocates of young people playing and learning in the great outdoors. I am keen to work with them to promote this cause. Firstly, I have already pushed for housing developments to include more accessible open space, ideal for ‘jumpers for goal-posts’, allowing young people to run off their endless energy; this is crucial in reducing child obesity and tackling anti-social behaviour. Secondly, I agree with the need to encourage and promote summer camps, where children can benefit from a wide range of experiences in the outdoors away from home. This isn’t a new concept, as I am sure there are countless readers who themselves have experienced our excellent Plas Pencelli facility, a Swindon-owned Outdoor Education Centre based on the edge of the Brecon Beacons of South Wales.
In a similar vein, I was delighted to attend Robert Buckland MP’s reception for the Hop, Skip & Jump appeal. This would provide a respite care facility at Lydiard Park, which would include outdoor provision for children with disabilities. I was humbled by the parents present who talked about the difference centres like this can make to their lives, and together as a community I very much hope we can raise the money needed as quickly as possible.
Finally, I am thrilled at the news of Prince William & Kate Middleton’s engagement. As has been said in the national media, you can’t beat a true love story.