Throughout this extraordinary and difficult year, I have heard so many amazing stories of local residents, businesses and community groups who have been looking out for those who are vulnerable in our community.
The amount of people who have selflessly come forward to volunteer their services reflects the strong sense of community spirit we have here in Swindon. I am proud to represent our community. My deep thanks to everyone who has made a difference this year and my deep sympathy goes to all those who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic.
In the past week our town has had good news as it was announced that Swindon has been awarded £25 million from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund – the highest sum awarded.
I am delighted that after spending many months of lobbying by me, Justin Tomlinson MP and the Conservative-led Borough Council that Swindon has been awarded this money which will be used to modernise our town centre to ensure that it is fit for the future.
The money will be spent on rejuvenating Fleming Way and the surrounding area. It is high time that part of the town centre was revived, and this money will allow us to do it.
Last week we also had the very good news that the Government has secured a free trade deal with the European Union which fully delivers on what the British public voted for in the referendum and in last year’s General Election.
At 11pm on 31st December, we will take back control of our trade policy and leave the EU customs union and single market. We will take back control of our waters, with this treaty affirming British sovereignty over our vast marine wealth. We will take back control of our money by ending vast payments to the EU. We will take back control of our borders and will introduce our new points-based immigration system at the start of next year. Most importantly, the agreement provides for the UK to take back control of our laws, affording no role for EU law and no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice.
This ambitious agreement is the first the EU has ever reached allowing zero tariffs and zero quotas. We will preserve the immense benefits of free trade for millions of people in the United Kingdom and across Europe. This deal also includes a commitment to maintaining high labour, environment and climate standards without giving the EU any say over our rules.
Many people said this deal could not be done or was impossible in the time available. This government has proved those views wrong. We have agreed the biggest trade and co-operation deal in the world, on a huge range of issues relevant to everyone in our country, in record time and in hugely challenging conditions.
2020 has not been the year that we expected, but having secured a free-trade agreement with the EU and with hundreds of thousands of people across the country having already been vaccinated against Covid-19, including 3,000 here in Swindon as our town leads the way in the roll-out of the vaccine, we can see light at the end of the tunnel and can look forward to 2021 with confidence. May I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.