Last Updated: 08 March 2011
Created: 08 March 2011
This week it was confirmed that the Government would electrify the Great Western rail line from London to Cardiff, which of course includes Swindon. This work will take place over the next six years as part of the Government’s drive to deliver an improved and more sustainable train service. Since being elected as the MP for North Swindon, I have pressed for this as a matter of urgency, working with MPs from all parties who represent constituencies along the route.
This is fantastic news for a number of reasons. Firstly this will deliver much-needed increased capacity on the line. This is crucial as it will reduce overcrowding, and would allow for better value tickets as the train operators seek increased business. Secondly it will mean faster trains, cutting the typical Swindon to London journey by 15 minutes. Finally, and vitally, it will attract further investment into Swindon, helping attract new businesses and much-needed employment opportunities.
I was delighted that the Conservative-controlled Swindon Borough Council confirmed last week that Council Tax for 2011/12 will be frozen. This will be particularly welcomed by those on fixed incomes. It is to their credit that Swindon Borough Council continues to strive to deliver better value for money. This will both keep down Council Tax and release additional funding for important frontline services. With the Government now requiring greater transparency on local authority spending, including publishing all expenditure over £500, there will now be a greater opportunity for local residents to help highlight further areas where the Council can better spend our money.
In Parliament I have led a number of debates on the vital role of libraries for local communities. This has been based on my experience as the former Lead Member for Libraries on Swindon Borough Council, during which time the £10m new Central Library was built, on time and on budget. I continue to set out a proactive case for supporting our vital community libraries, through enhancing the book stock, extending opening times and improving the library environment. These changes should be funded through switching costs from the back office, as I was staggered to learn that nationally only 7.5% of library expenditure is actually spent on books. This is now more important than ever, as we hear news of library closures in many areas across the country; though thankfully not here in Swindon, where we have been fortunate to see a continued investment in our library service. With this in mind, I was delighted to visit and use the newly refurbished and much-improved Moredon library. I have no doubt this investment will lead to an upsurge in usage and members, which will be great for the local community.