Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - PM Got The Big Calls Right

As residents will be aware, this week saw the Prime Minister face a vote of confidence.

Ahead of the vote, I was contacted by around 100 residents who shared their views - with strong opinions on both sides of the debate.

As the result of the ballot showed, it was very difficult decision for many of us, and, as I have said to residents who contacted me on the vote, lessons certainly need to be learned.

For my own part, I did vote for the Prime Minister. The reason I did so was that, thanks to the PM, we won seats up and down the country, including seats the Conservative Party has never won with any previous leader. As such, he secured a democratic mandate to lead our party and lead our country. Moreover, the Prime Minister has apologised for the actions which brought about the vote, has fully co-operated with relevant investigations, and has made substantial changes to way Downing Street now operates.

In addition, the Prime Minister has led this country through its biggest peacetime crisis in a generation and, thanks to his leadership, he delivered the fastest vaccine and booster rollout in Europe and provided unprecedented economic support to both businesses and families impacted by the pandemic. We must now return our focus on tackling the cost-of-living challenges, continuing our support for Ukraine and continuing our post-Covid economic recovery.

Earlier this week, I also took part in the Children’s Education Recovery and Childcare Costs debate - which was an opportunity for me to raise a number of asks from Ministers.

Firstly, in relation to the consolidation of multi-academy trusts, which I think helps with the pooling of resources, training, recruitment and career progression for teachers – I asked if we could go further. I suggested that, when we consider large new school sites, we should look to consolidate the offerings, so that we perhaps have university technical college provision, grammar streams and special educational needs provision alongside traditional secondary schools.

I also added that, when we award free school status, we must make sure we get the consultation right. This is to avoid some of the issues we have had locally in relation to cherry-picked consultation responses which didn’t reflect the views of the community, elected representatives or the local authority.

On the topic of nurseries, I asked ministers to look into the issue of traditional nurseries having to pay business rates whilst schools offering nursery provision do not. I also mentioned the challenges of recruitment in nurseries and how, at short notice, nurseries rely on agencies with very expensive costs. In addition, whilst welcoming the Government’s investment in speech and language development and the catch-up post-covid, I asked if consideration could be given to allowing nurseries to also bid for some of that money on a case-by-case basis.

I also made a number of broader suggestions to help hard-working families. I asked if, like the holiday activity fund, we could provide more relief for busy working parents, particularly during the long summer holidays. I also asked if ministers could look at spreading out term times by region, to help bring down peak demand (and therefore peak prices) for school holiday travel.

Finally, I also suggested the free use of school community and sports facilities for any community/parent group that is putting on constructive activities for young children. Not only sport, but any group such Scouts, Guides etc – so there is the maximum opportunities for young people locally.

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