Many if not most of us will have strong feelings about the Oasis, given our own happy visits there. It remains an important local amenity for us all here in Swindon and I have already spoken to the owners of the site, Severn Capital. I have urged them to work closely with Swindon Borough Council to find a way forward that will allow the Oasis to reopen and for improvements to be made to a much-loved local amenity.
Together with Justin Tomlinson MP, I will carry on working to try and achieve a positive outcome for all of us who know and love the Oasis.
On Covid, we have had positive news about vaccine development and great progress on mass testing which will help reduce the need for restrictions as a vaccine is rolled out in the coming weeks and months.
We can’t afford to be complacent, however. We must get through the winter without the virus spreading out of control and squandering our hard-won gains.
That is why on Monday the Prime Minister set out the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Plan which will see the reintroduction of a localised system based on strengthened tiers from December 2nd.
If these are not in place then the virus could get out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have an impact, which would put at risk all our work to date.
Many residents have been in touch with me since the Prime Minister’s announcement which questions about what will and will not be permitted under the new tiered system and which tier will Swindon be placed in.
The Government will be announcing later this week which areas will fall into each tier, based on analysis of five key factors. These are: case detection rates in all age groups; case detection rates in over 60s; the rate at which cases are rising or falling; the positivity rate; and pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.
If you have any specific questions about the restrictions in each tier, please get in touch or follow these two links: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-winter-plan and www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know.
I welcome the news that Swindon is set to receive an additional £731,500 from the Government’s Active Travel Fund which is designed to create safe spaces for cycling and walking.
As many of us have tried to avoid public transport in recent months, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people opting to walk or get on their bike when moving around. I am delighted that Swindon will benefit from additional funding to make our area even more bike and pedestrian-friendly, while maintaining the access and space other road users still need.
This Conservative Government has pledged a revolution in walking and cycling as part of our plans to level up the whole country, with the Prime Minister announcing a record £2 billion investment to double cycling and increase walking by 2025. This comes on top of more than £27 billion that will be invested in England’s roads over the next five years, ensuring the road network is safe, reliable and efficient.
In further good news for our area, alongside local councillors Gary Sumner, Jenny Jefferies and Brian Mattock I am calling for eligible residents and businesses in Wanborough and Chiseldon to register their interest in BT Openreach Fibre Broadband, utilising Government funding.
The Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme means that eligible rural homes can get a voucher worth £1500 and up to £3500 for small businesses.
I am pleased that following several meetings with BT Openreach this option is now available after we have championed this issue on behalf of many local residents, who can register their interest here: https://www.openreach.com/connectmycommunity.