THE ongoing flooding crisis is uppermost in our minds, and of course our thoughts go out to everyone affected.
Mercifully, Swindon has been spared the worst but we are still feeling the effects: with flooding in the Thames Basin to the east and Devon & Somerset to the west, rail services in all directions are facing serious disruption.
It’s not long ago that many households in Swindon were flooded, but much work has since been undertaken to alleviate the problems.
There are still areas of concern though. For example, recently I have been bringing the various agencies together and working with residents in Wroughton and lower Wanborough.
We mustn’t forget that the borough’s historic name was Thamesdown, and our fate to some extent lies with that mighty river and its tributaries.
As we think of people in the midst of this crisis, we must keep working to ensure Swindon does not suffer in the same way.
Moving on, this year’s Centre for Cities report has just been released, and it makes very good reading for Swindon.
This important, independent study looks at 64 of the country’s largest towns and cities and ranks them in several categories to give a snapshot of how well they’re doing.It’s important because businesses look at the report and use it to help make decisions on where to invest and create jobs.
The good news in the latest study is that Swindon has moved significantly up the scale in a number of categories.
We are now ranked second only to Cambridge in terms of innovation; we have the third highest proportion of private sector employment; and we rank fourth highest when it comes to expansion in housing stock. This is all good news for our local economy and I will continue to work with Forward Swindon and the Borough Council to fly the flag for Swindon and attract new investment here.
One of the success stories in the ‘innovation’ category is the creation of the new University Technical College. On Monday, the Swindon UTC was given a huge vote of confidence by a visit from HRH The Duke of York. Prince Andrew met the board of directors and headteachers from secondary schools across Swindon as well as business sponsors and partners of the college.
The UTC’s principal summed it up perfectly when she said the college is going to be iconic in the world of engineering, equipping young people with the skills to pursue careers in engineering in all its diverse forms.
The UTC will really put Swindon on the map. That, and the good news in the Centre for Cities report, are more reasons to be optimistic about our town’s future.