Last Updated: 20 October 2015
Created: 01 January 2012
2011 has been extremely busy, and the end of the year is a good opportunity to reflect on some of the biggest issues I’ve been dealing with.
I’m passionate about promoting the positive role that sport can play in the community and particularly among young people. In England, one third of children are either overweight or obese. When the Government sought to scrap direct funding for the School Sports Partnerships (SSPs), I was a critical voice helping to secure a change of heart. SSPs have been very successful in engaging the majority of children who were simply not active enough. In Swindon we saw the number of schools delivering two hours of sport a week increase from 33 to 68. We have also seen the Swindon Sports Forum, which brings together more than 60 sporting groups to increase sporting opportunities for local residents. And we can’t leave sport without a word about Swindon Town and Swindon Supermarine. Both clubs have had mixed years, but I’ll continue to cheer on our local teams from the terraces whenever I can!
One of my main projects in 2011 was promoting the need for compulsory financial education for young people. I’ve been overwhelmed by the fantastic public support, as well as invaluable backing from Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com and TV maths expert Carol Vorderman. My All-Party Parliamentary Group published a report and we were delighted to have secured a three-hour debate in Parliament after 100,000 people signed our e-petition; only the fourth issue to have passed the debate trigger figure. I’ll continue to press hard on this topic in 2012.
Promoting our town is one of the most important aspects of my role and I’m working hard to ensure we’re doing all we can in these challenging economic times. In particular, Swindon Council should be congratulated for extending the cut in car-parking charges which has been a real boost to the town centre. Still with the economy, I helped launch Plan 500, which is creating 500 apprenticeships for young people in Swindon. We should be building on their energy and enthusiasm to become the next generation of employers.
Collectively as politicians we needed to rebuild trust in politics, and transparency is vitally important. The first annual expenses report shows that my ‘running costs’ are around half those of the former Labour MP’s. Residents can keep in touch via my website, Facebook and Twitter, as well as the good old email, phone and post of course!
Politics aside, I will always do my very best to be both an asset and a champion for Swindon.