Many people know that Swindon is home to the country’s seven leading Research Councils which make up UK Research & Innovation. As an MP, I have worked tirelessly to champion our town in Parliament and highlight the successful charities, businesses, organisations and people who call it home. As part of this, I was pleased to welcome the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to Parliament this week, to host their inaugural Health Humanities Awards.

The AHRC funds world-class, independent researchers across a wide range of subjects including archaeology, the creative and performing arts, design, digital content, heritage, history, languages, philosophy and much more.

The awards celebrated the people and projects which are helping to inform and transform the quality of life, health and well-being of the population using arts and humanities research. They were the first awards of their kind to recognise these achievements in the UK.

Particular examples of projects included the amazing work using music to help unlock the secrets of dementia, as well as the new research on tackling anti-social behaviour through arts projects in the community.

It was great to host both staff from Swindon and the various entrants into this inaugural competition. We can be very proud that this innovative, exciting work is led from Swindon.

And it doesn’t stop there, as the Research Councils and Innovate UK also are set to play a big part in the Prime Minister’s announcements this week to increase the number of Zero Emission Cars. The PM said that the UK would lead the world in developing new smart hybrid and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) as she spoke at the first ever ZEV summit in Birmingham.

Part of this includes a £106 million funding boost for research and development in green vehicles, new batteries and low carbon technology, as well industry providing over £500 million worth of investment, creating over 1,000 jobs across the UK.

The work being done in Swindon involves research on vehicle batteries, solutions for the UK’s urban infrastructure; including making sure there are charge points; and energy & transport challenges. All issues that will need to be addressed if more and more people are going to switch to hybrid and ZEVs.

Having recently traded in my diesel car for a hybrid, I can instantly see the benefits but also the challenges that will need to be overcome. The vast majority of my driving in and around Swindon is done purely on electric.

With a Government grant to reduce the cost of the car, as well as a grant to cover my charging point at home, not only am I saving money but I am helping the environment (which was the whole point in the first place). However, when I want to drive further afield, I struggle to find charging points which is a big part of what the Government is looking to address, with the help of research being done in Swindon.

As the MP for North Swindon, I am very proud to showcase the leading part Swindon is playing in research & innovation. I will also continue to ensure that the Government continues to invest in this field (it currently spends £6 billion annually) so that locally, we continue to create jobs and fuel vital research.