Many local residents will have already booked their summer holiday this year.

For those going abroad, one of the more stressful elements can involve spending hours travelling to the airport before you’ve even taken off. Therefore wouldn’t it be great if residents in Swindon could reach Heathrow in under an hour? That means not having to travel by train into central London and come back out to Heathrow again.

I have been calling for a new Western Rail Link, which would cover the West of England and Wales via Swindon & Reading to Heathrow, as part of the wider discussions about expansion and a third runway.

It is estimated that a new rail link would contribute around £800 million to the economy and create 42,000 new jobs in the region.

Not to mention that Heathrow being under an hour away would greatly benefit both residents and local businesses.

In Parliament this week I asked the Transport Secretary to back this rail link and I am delighted that he signalled the Government’s support, confirming that funding would be available to deliver it. A consultation is now underway.

If residents would like to see the plans in more detail and respond to the consultation, then please do not hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to share the website link. The aim is for the rail link to be ready by 2026.

This ambitious plan coincides with the proposed third runway at Heathrow; something which would bring about enormous economic benefits by delivering an essential increase in airport capacity and creating 60,000 new jobs and 5,000 new apprenticeships.

It would provide better connections to growing world markets, increase flights to long haul destinations and is expected to grow the UK economy by up to £74 billion.

Understandably there are environmental concerns but the Government has been very clear that these plans will happen on the condition that air quality commitments are met.

Elsewhere I am very excited about the upcoming Disability Confident event a week today which I am hosting alongside the fantastic Horizons College.

The event is taking place at the Marriot Hotel and aims to showcase the huge amount of talent available to local employers here in Swindon.

Students from the college will demonstrate their food prep skills in a cooking demonstration before serving samples to guests from Swindon’s business and hospitality community.

There will also be employment experts on hand to discuss the support and funding available to businesses who choose to hire somebody with a disability.

This is the second big event which I have hosted to support disability employment. I do so because I am passionate about providing these opportunities and showing local businesses just how great the benefits are. The emphasis is entirely on the ability, not the disability.

If any local businesses, managers or those who are responsible for hiring would like to attend, then please do get in touch with my office by emailing or calling 01793 533393.

We’d be delighted to see you there and I know that we will have an appearance from special guest chef Marco Pierre White, who is kindly supporting the event.