I HAVE been out and about in the constituency this week, taking advantage of the Parliamentary recess to knock on doors and speak to as many constituents as possible. A number of local and national issues were raised, with some common themes seen across all areas of the constituency. Parking provision and traffic were the two most commonly raised issues.

I have campaigned over the past four years as both a candidate and an MP to address the dual problem that we have in our towns – a lack of parking and ensuring that parking is affordable. This is part of the recipe to rejuvenate our town centres and ensure that they are hubs for our communities.

We need to fight to keep our high streets vibrant, increasing footfall and removing barriers to people visiting our towns.

The Portas Review into our high streets highlighted parking charges and the lack of parking provision as one of the primary reasons for people choosing not to visit our smaller towns and we need to tackle this as a matter of urgency.

Whilst some of the towns in the constituency have very reasonable parking, I was dismayed to hear of the Wiltshire Council decision to consult on increasing parking charges in Chippenham town centre.

Chippenham parking is already the highest in my constituency by a wide margin, so whilst I understand the pressures of managing the budget and funding all services, I honestly do not believe it is the correct answer to take from the pockets of local Chippenham residents, who are already paying above and beyond for their parking.

We actually need lower parking charges to protect businesses in the town and enable people to shop locally. The public consultation will be open online from September 28 and I would encourage everyone to log on and contribute to this. Please contact me on number below if you have any questions or concerns.

Away from politics, I had a very enjoyable morning judging the Chippenham bake-off, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Well done to everyone who has taken part in a Macmillan coffee morning – a charity close to most people.

I enjoyed meeting one of the Chippenham Girl Guide Districts this week and have had a number of meetings with community groups, and constituents. Get in touch if you would like me to attend an event or meet with a local group.

I hope to be speaking to as many people as possible on the doorstep this week but if I missed you and you would like to speak to me in person about anything then please do email me on michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01249 704465.

I am also running a Mature Matters Forum in Atworth in November. So if you are over 60 and would be interested in coming along or attending one of my other surgeries then please get in touch with my office.