Last Wednesday, I organised a meeting with the Local Enterprise Partnership, Network Rail, Wiltshire Council and local businesses to discuss how we can get some real benefit for Chippenham town centre from the Local Growth Deal announced by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable last month. We were joined by a surprise guest: the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
In Government, Nick introduced Growth Deals to give local communities the money and power to improve infrastructure and support for businesses in their area. I was keen to show him the plans local groups have come up with to make the station a gateway to Chippenham town centre with better pedestrian and cycle links.
I also took Nick to visit Good Energy’s headquarters in Chippenham. It’s great that our part of Wiltshire is home to a company that not only helps consumers by providing an alternative to the Big Six, but also helps the environment by increasing the use of renewables.
Good Energy has increased its customer base by more than a third in the last year, and I’m particularly pleased that it’s providing more and more jobs for local people in Chippenham too.
I had the opportunity to listen to a visiting Palestinian speaking at Iford Mill, which rather brought to life the day-to-day challenges of life on the West Bank, as well as what we see on our TV screens of the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
At Melksham Library, I listened to children’s reviews of books they’ve read and encouraged them to continue the Summer Reading Challenge. I was joined by Wiltshire’s children’s librarian, who tells me that the early signs are that participation on the Summer Reading Challenge is up again this year, fostering a love of books in young minds.
I also met with a couple of dozen residents in Broughton Gifford to hear their concerns about the way Wiltshire Council has handled recent applications to build solar farms.
I am taking advantage of Parliament’s summer recess to get out and about, introducing myself to residents at their homes and holding a number of constituency surgeries.
My next will be at my office in Avonbridge House, Chippenham, on Saturday, August 16, from 10-11.30am; the Corsham Pound Arts Centre, on Monday, August 18, from 2-3.30pm; and at Bradford on Avon Library on Friday, August 22, from 9.30- 11am.