It was nice to see two separate reports this week, which showed Swindon as being in a strong position to bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

Normally when the Centre for Cities’ Outlook report is published at the start of each year, we are rubbing shoulders near the top of the leader board with some powerful cities and outperforming many others on a number of different economic indicators.

This year, we hardly got a mention. But that is cause for encouragement because this year’s report focused on the impact of COVID-19 on urban life and the prospects for the future and, in particular, those that have been worst affected.

While places like Birmingham, Blackpool and Hull were singled out as places facing the biggest levelling-up challenges due to increases in unemployment, Swindon is described by the research and policy institute as one of the areas with a strong economy, which fills me with optimism as we look to the future.

Our ratio of private sector jobs to publicly-funded jobs (4.6) places us second out of the 63 towns and cities ranked by Centre for Cities and our GDP per worker (86.8k) is the third best overall. The Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index also reported this week that Swindon was among a clutch of cities expected to withstand the worst impacts of the pandemic.

Swindon was ranked 11th out of 42 in the overall index and scored positively in half of the 12 key performance indicators including jobs, income, skills and new businesses. Although our GVA is not expected to rise as sharply as other areas this is because we were not as badly hit as other places throughout last year.

The reports recognise the importance of creating green and sustainable places, attracting new businesses, having good transport infrastructure and the need for thriving town centres and high streets to help towns and cities recover from the pandemic.

The good news for us is that we are already well on the way to bouncing back and this year we will be forging ahead with a number of projects that will deliver against many of the recovery themes outlined by the economic experts.

We are investing £70m to transform Fleming Way and the surrounding area, which will be the catalyst for the rejuvenation of our town centre and we expect to find out very soon whether we have been successful in our bid for £25m in government funding for a series of other regeneration projects.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of pounds are being spent upgrading major junctions around the town in preparation for our continued growth. This will give our economy a major boost and make us an even more attractive proposition for businesses looking to relocate to Swindon as we recently saw with the £400m investment in Symmetry Park to the east of the town.

We may not have made the headlines in this year’s Centre for Cities report, but the next chapters in our success story are only just being written. Watch this space.