It was pleasing to see some positive headlines this week with regard to our ongoing battle with COVID-19.

National media reported Swindon as being one of only 17 areas in the country which had seen a reduction in COVID-19 case rates since the start of September.

This was reflected in the town moving back down a place on the Government’s watchlist as we are once again rated as an area of concern. The figures released on Friday showed that the case rate up to September 6 had fallen to 16.7 per 100,000 of the local population, which was below the national average of 19.7.

Although our case rates have continued to fall, the situation can change quickly - it is imperative we continue to work together to stop the spread of the virus here in Swindon.

On Monday the Government’s Rule of Six came into force, which makes it illegal for people to gather socially in groups of more than six people, indoors or outdoors.

Our colleagues in Wiltshire Police have new powers to disperse any such gatherings and fine individuals involved £100, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200. It is really important we all follow these new laws, which have been brought in to limit the recent increases in cases we have seen nationally.

Having access to testing has been a crucial part of our strategy in bringing our COVID-19 cases under control and earlier this week we opened a Local Testing Site in Broadgreen Community Centre after making a request to the Government for extra testing capacity.

The new centre is a walk through facility and will give us indoor testing capacity over the coming colder months. We also have the drive-through and walk-through testing centre at the council’s Civic Annex, off Beckhampton Street, and the drive-through facility at the former Wroughton Park and Ride site.

The problems with booking testing via the Department for Health and Social Care’s national portal have been well documented this week, but I would encourage you to keep trying if you cannot book a Swindon appointment straight away.

New appointments are added daily and there is also the option of booking a home testing kit. If you have COVID-19 symptoms it is really important you book a test either online or via NHS 119 as you will not be seen otherwise.

We know from the data that thousands of residents have been able to book tests in Swindon over the past couple of weeks and we will do everything we can to ensure we maintain testing capacity here in the borough.

I would like to finish this week’s column by thanking you all for your efforts during the past few weeks. It is clear from the Public Health England figures that local people have really stepped up to the mark in ensuring they keep themselves and their families safe by following the guidance.

It's up to all of us to keep up the good work.