In recent years, the Council has been hugely successful in obtaining government funding for a host of major infrastructure and capital projects that will benefit our great town.

Moreover, I am hoping this strong record of accomplishment will stand us in good stead for two very important bids we will be making to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund over the next few weeks.

The first bid is for £8m to help bring forward proposals to refurbish the Oasis Leisure Centre.

Most Advertiser readers will be aware of the recent history surrounding the iconic swimming pool, which was closed by operator GLL due to the effects of the pandemic 18 months ago.

Since then, we have been liaising with the landlords, SevenCapital, to find a way of bringing forward a revamped Oasis that will be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

We thought we were making progress a little over a year ago when SevenCapital submitted plans to build a brand-new leisure facility on the Oasis site, but these were taken off the table when the dome and swimming pool was subsequently awarded Grade II listed status by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

As it stands at the moment we have a huge mountain to climb. There are significant challenges to overcome in delivering a viable scheme as the costs to preserve the dome and pool are considerable and have added many millions of pounds to the overall cost.

However, I would like to assure readers that we will not let this deter us and we are committed - as we have been from the very start - to get the Oasis back open for local residents and visitors.

A successful bid to the Levelling Up Fund would be a real boost and help us close that viability gap but, even then, it would not be enough to make it viable on its own.

A lot of work still needs to be done with SevenCapital behind the scenes to make the scheme deliverable, but we will be doing everything we can to get the outcome we all want.

We will be submitting a similar bid to the Levelling Up Fund to help us take forward the second phase of restoration work at the Health Hydro in Milton Road.

Earlier this month, we were delighted to learn we had secured £5m from the Government’s Towns Fund, which combined with £1.5m from the Council, will fund the first phase of refurbishment.

The scheme will deliver enhancements to the leisure facilities housed within the building, will include repairs and maintenance to the structure, and additional works to highlight the building’s historical features.

Part of the town’s Heritage Action Zone, the work to refurbish the Health Hydro will breathe new life into one of Swindon’s most remarkable buildings, put it on a sustainable footing for the future and create a unique leisure and heritage attraction to draw people into Swindon’s town centre.

Council officers have already begun preparing the business cases for both bids, which need to be submitted early next month, and we will be keeping our fingers crossed we get the green light for both.