ROBERT BUCKLAND: It has been an honour for me to be involved with Harry’s story

Robert Buckland - MP for South Swindon

Robert Buckland - MP for South Swindon

First published in Opinion
Last updated

THIS week’s events to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day have been humbling to watch.

But, as so often with these national occasions, it’s the personal stories of individuals which really stand out. One such is that of Harry Prescott, and it’s been an honour for me to be involved with his story.

Harry was a 21-year-old Royal Marine when he set off for the beaches of Normandy in 1944. He never arrived because his landing craft was blown from the water after hitting a mine or being shelled – to this day, he’s not sure which. But, unlike many of his young friends, Harry survived.

Fast forward to this year. Harry wanted to return to Normandy to visit Bayeux Cemetery, where many of his former comrades are buried.

But he had never before held a British passport. Harry had, in fact, been born in Canada to English parents. Every time he applied for the British passport to which he was rightfully entitled, the powers-that-be wouldn’t accept the paperwork.

He tried three times to no avail, and for a moment it looked as if Harry wouldn’t be able to return to Normandy for the D-Day anniversary. Then the 47 RM Commando Association contacted me to see if there was anything that could be done.

I’m delighted to say that we were able to work together to cut through the red tape. This time, at the age of 92 and proudly carrying his British Passport, Harry did make it to the beaches of Normandy. His story is one that stands out among so many others to whom we owe so much.

  • NOW on to another matter altogether. The developer Taylor Wimpey has applied for planning permission to build 62 houses off Croft Road.

I strongly oppose this application, as do the two Conservative ward councillors, Cllr Brian Mattock and Cllr Rod Bluh. The proposed development would eat into the much-needed green buffer between Croft and Wichelstowe.

The most important point to remember is that this is not a site earmarked for building by the Council in its Local Plan. It is outside the proposed development boundary; Taylor Wimpey have put this forward as a speculative proposal. This is the strongest reason to object to the application, and residents are raising other concerns including traffic and flooding.

If you would like to comment, go to www.swindon.gov.uk/planning, the reference number is S/OUT/14/0859. But the closing date for comments is Wednesday June 25, so we must act fast! The best way to fight this is by showing the strength of local opposition.

I look forward to working with the residents and local Conservative councillors to do all we can to prevent this development.

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