Robert's Weekly Column - 26th August 2020

Swindon railway station is an historic and vital part of our town, so I was very pleased that Signal Point will now receive the renovation works it needs as part of our town’s regeneration strategy, thanks to Network Rail regaining control of the building.

It is hoped that the building will once again become an iconic entrance to Swindon and give visiting training passengers a much better first impression of our town. This is important news; residents and business will look forward to seeing this prominent office block back in use.

Signal Point occupies an important gateway site in Swindon, and I am very pleased that Network Rail not only have taken back ownership but also have committed to improving Signal Point and the land around it, which will improve the appearance of this part of our town centre.

I look forward to working with the council and Network Rail to help develop Swindon station and seeing swift progress.

Last week it was good to have the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Sinewave Energy Solutions, a local electric engineering company, to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on their business and the future of the renewable energy sector.

During the tour, I was able to see the design, installation and connection process for electric vehicle charging stations and discuss the company’s fantastic growth in the sector. We also discussed how Sinewave have taken advantage of the government’s furlough scheme and are planning to use the additional support for employing apprentices.

Seeing a Swindon business operating so successfully within the fast growth renewables sector was a pleasure, especially as Managing Director Adam Woodley is Swindon born and bred.

This government is committed to making sure that our country is carbon neutral by 2050. To ensure we achieve this, it is important we support local businesses like Sinewave who are the forefront of delivering the next generation of electric infrastructure.

On Friday I visited Swindon Station and witnessed first-hand the action of our dedicated British Transport Police. Our station is sadly a place where drugs come into our town, very often brought in by young people who are being exploited by organised County Lines drugs gangs.

Through the sniffer dogs and intensive work today, we are seeing a number of arrests being made, all part of our fight against County Lines. The government has been funding more activity in this important area and we are determined to do everything we can to stamp out those who distribute drugs and also those who organise this serious crime.

The government has announced a £3.36 million fund to help save grass roots music venues at immediate risk of closure. I am pleased that this includes funding to help Level III – one of Swindon’s best and oldest live music venues in the heart of our town.

This support is on top of the £500 million in grants being delivered to cultural organisations by Arts Council England, who will still be accepting applications until 4 September. All this funding forms part of an unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue package for culture and heritage from the government to see these sectors through the coronavirus pandemic.