With many home nation competitors basing their training nearby in Bath, it was wonderful to see a number of local athletes enjoy success at the Commonwealth Games: culminating in Hilperton’s Danny Talbot bringing home the English 4x100 sprint relay to claim a silver medal.
Given the sacrifices of so many from the Commonwealth, it was fitting that the First World War centenary commemorations began straight after the Games in Glasgow. If the Royal British Legion’s dramatic flood of poppies at the Tower of London is anything to go by, the months ahead will be a suitably moving memorial of all the country went through at that time.
Official figures released last week show how we’ve recovered from the financial crisis: our economy is now bigger than it was before the crash in 2008. The International Monetary Fund announced that we have gone from being the slowest-growing G7 economy in 2010, to the fastest-growing this year. The unemployment rate has fallen to 6.5 per cent.
I and the Liberal Democrats in Government are determined to make this a balanced recovery that brings opportunity to everyone in all parts of the UK.
To help the young people entering the job market at such a difficult time, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable is investing heavily in apprenticeships, and I’m encouraging the local employers I meet to offer as many of them as possible.
Together, we’ve doubled the number of apprentices taken on each year, and cut youth unemployment by 125,000.
To ensure that the recovery isn’t just felt in London, Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg set up the Regional Growth Fund, which has made grants to businesses in Chippenham, Melksham and Corsham to help them expand. The number of job seekers in our part of Wiltshire has fallen by nearly half since 2010.
Last month, Nick also announced the first wave of Local Growth Deals, including a £129 million package for Swindon and Wiltshire.
As I write, I’m looking forward to welcoming the Deputy Prime Minister to Chippenham to see our exciting plans for improvements around Chippenham station and visit a thriving local business, more on that next week.
My next constituency surgeries will be at Melksham Town Hall on Monday from 10am to 11.30am; and at Bradford on Avon library on Wednesday, from 10am to 11.30pm.