It is always great to kick-off a new year with some positive news and I was absolutely delighted to see work start on a key town centre scheme this week.

On the face of it, rejuvenating a relatively small road in the centre of Swindon may seem insignificant. But transforming Wellington Street is much more than that. It is all about first impressions.

Wellington Street is a gateway from our railway station into the town centre and is used by thousands of employees and visitors to Swindon each week. For those of you that use it, I don’t need to tell you how tired it has become in recent years, which is why the Council is taking positive action to change all that.

If we are committed to improving our town centre for people who live and work here, we need to create a welcoming environment and, not only that, we want outside investors to see Swindon as a place that is on the up.

Over the next four months our contractor will be installing a segregated pedestrian and cycle path as well as a new pedestrian crossing.

New paving will be laid and the area will be much more pedestrian-friendly so that when people step off the train and take those first steps towards the town centre they will be greeted with a much more pleasant environment.

Upgrading Wellington Street forms one of the Council’s Pledges as it is one area of the town that we recognised need some care and attention. It will also complement the improvements that were previously carried out on the railway station forecourt.

But it is no good creating a good first impression, if you have nothing to back it up with. This is why later this year we will be outlining further plans for the area with a new bus facility and we are working hard with Zurich and Homes England to deliver millions of pounds worth of state-of-the-art offices that will create a lasting legacy for the town centre.

Over the next few months we will also start to see activity on the ground at North Star with £270m being invested in the indoor ski slopes and other leisure activities and you can expect to see some other land being developed such as the derelict former Aspen House site.

Progress will be a key word for the Council as we move through 2019 and we will be doing all we can over the next 12 months to keep that momentum going so we deliver a town we can all be proud of.