ON Monday I will present my annual report to the council’s scrutiny committee, which sets out the administration’s record for the previous 12 months and looks at the strategic priorities for the current year.

Our progress towards achieving the vision and pledges that we made to the people of Swindon are central to the report, so it is particularly pleasing to see us making real progress in achieving our ambitious targets.

One of the areas where we now have serious momentum is in the town centre and I’m sure you will have read a number of positive stories in the Advertiser in recent weeks on various projects which are now being taken forward. And we should celebrate our town because we have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to look forward to.

My cabinet colleague, councillor Dale Heenan, is working really hard with council officers to turn our ambition for the town centre into reality and I am pleased to say it is paying off.

A few weeks ago we celebrated the reopening of Wellington Street – one of our key pledges and the second piece of the jigsaw in terms of creating a welcoming gateway into our town centre, following the work that was carried out a few years ago to revamp the station forecourt. But last Friday, we received the extremely encouraging news that our £25 million bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund had made it through to the next round.

If successful, the money would be used to transform Fleming Way by removing the underpass and creating a new bus interchange with new public space and major improvements to cycling and pedestrian routes. The government chose our bid along with 50 others from more than 300 UK-wide.

Our officers will now work up a detailed business case so we show the government we have a deliverable scheme ready to start next year.

The new bus facility is an important part of the Kimmerfields regeneration site and would free up the area which houses the current bus station, increasing the size of the site by 20 per cent and increasing the value of the development.

On the other side of the town centre we recently launched our Heritage Action Zone in the historic Railway Village and, earlier this week, work started on Unit 11 of the former GWR Carriage Works which will be home to Swindon’s Cultural Heritage Institute and run by Royal Agricultural University.

A deal to regenerate the Aspen House site near the former Town Hall is close to being finalised and some exciting news will soon be announced regarding major investment in The Brunel shopping centre. We also have the fantastic North Star indoor ski slope on the horizon. With that in mind, and if you excuse the pun, we need to make sure the good news keeps snowballing.

But I must end the column by reserving some special praise for Artsite and the local artists who have helped to paint the beautiful mural on the side of the steps at the Wyvern Theatre. I’m sure you will agree it has brightened up that part of the town centre and is wonderful advert for our town.

We have set out our own vision for the town centre, it won’t be long before our own picture is brought to life.