I was delighted to see our COVID vaccine rollout continue to build momentum this week.

As I write, more than 3 million people have received the first dose of a vaccine, with more than 400,000 having received their second doses. As more vaccine supply becomes available, we will continue to see the pace of the vaccine rollout increase. The Prime Minister has set out a goal that everyone in the four top priority groups will have been offered the first dose by 15th February. These are people aged 70 and over, care home residents, the clinically extremely vulnerable, and the health and social care staff looking after them. In Swindon alone, it is expected that up to 9,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine will be delivered by the end of January.

As of this week, over 2,700 vaccination sites are up and running across the country, including a vaccination centre at Steam and a hospital hub at the GWH. This number will continue to grow, and by the end of the month everyone in the UK will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site, with mobile vaccination units operating in more remote areas.

I know that some people in the priority groups will be anxious that they haven’t yet been contacted about their vaccination appointment. I can assure you that you haven’t been forgotten and will be invited to make an appointment in the very near future. Please wait to hear from your GP rather than contacting them yourself.

This week the Government also announced important changes to the Mental Health Act, which will empower individuals to have more control over their treatment; deliver parity between mental and physical health services; and tackle mental health inequalities. This includes disproportionate detention of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

These reforms will also aim to better meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism and will ensure the appropriate care for people with serious mental illness within the criminal justice system.

Much work has been done to improve our understanding of mental health conditions and to tackle the stigma around them. However, there has been no new Mental Health Bill for 30 years. I am delighted that the Government is looking to address this and will deliver on its commitment to introduce a new Mental Health Bill.

Locally, it was very disappointing to hear that the Swindon Robins would not be competing in the forthcoming 2021 Speedway season. Understandably there is uncertainty as to when it will be safe for fans to return to watch and without paying fans and the knock-on impact for attracting / retaining sponsorship it makes it very difficult for the team to plan. I suspect others, if not all of the league will follow shortly. The statement also confirmed this would allow a clear run for the long-awaited stadium redevelopment, with the final S106 agreements now confirmed with Swindon Borough Council. The stadium redevelopment must be completed before any additional housing can proceed – this remains a firm red line.

I will continue to work with the club, the stadium owners, Swindon Borough Council and Rosco, Steve Park and Lee Kilby who have done so much for the Swindon Robins to make sure Swindon Robins are able to return stronger than ever, with a redeveloped stadium.