More are working and a special arrival will be due, says Chippenham MP Ducan Hames

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Chippenham MP Duncan Hames expects a special arrival this Christmas Chippenham MP Duncan Hames expects a special arrival this Christmas

The focus last week was very much on jobs, with new figures showing that the national unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest since early 2009.

The last year has seen 485,000 new jobs created – 95 per cent of them full-time – taking the total number of new jobs since the election to 1.1 million.

We are seeing the benefits here in Wiltshire, with the number of Jobseekers in the Chippenham constituency down by more than 300 in the last year, and now at its lowest in five years.

The number of young Jobseekers locally also fell by more than a fifth, and it’s great to see more and more of our young people finding work with local employers.

With a stronger economy and more jobs, optimism is spreading – the number of people who think the economy will improve in 2014 is more than double the number who thought so when we nervously welcomed in 2013.

Now the Liberal Democrats want to go further, and help businesses create another million jobs, enabling everyone to get on in life.

I discussed the new figures and the actions we’re taking to help people into work with a panel of MPs on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I explained that, when I meet local employers, particularly in engineering and manufacturing, they say it can be difficult to find young people with the right skills.

That’s why I’ve been pushing ministers – including the Prime Minister – to give Wiltshire College the funding it needs to rebuild its Chippenham campus.

In Parliament, I spoke of the extra 80 trains a week that are now calling at Chippenham station under the new TransWilts service when reminding ministers that I’m keen to see the Government’s ‘Access for All’ programme fund the installation of lifts at the station.

Now that Wiltshire Council has finally granted Network Rail planning permission, I’ve asked ministers to hasten the project and the Transport Secretary has promised to write to me with a timetable for the work.

I also joined MPs scrutinising proposed EU rules on tobacco control and urged the Public Health Minister to take care that future policy decisions are grounded in properly-researched evidence.

As Parliament packs up for the Christmas break, Jo and I are preparing for the arrival of our baby which she has been carrying for nine months. It will be a very special Christmas holiday for us this year.

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