Last week I ended my column with my hope that there would be further early Christmas presents for Swindon in the shape of more good news. Fortunately for the Borough, I do have another positive announcement.

This week I was delighted that Forward Swindon Ltd (FSL) and council officers, along with Cabinet Member Garry Perkins, had secured University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) as a tenant for Unit 11 of the Carriage Works.

In the initial phase, this will allow the University to set up a postgraduate and continuous professional training hub in Swindon, which will provide an advanced learning centre for cultural heritage and architecture to serve the needs of the heritage sector in Southern England. It will offer a range of Master’s level and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.

This commitment by the University will contribute to Swindon achieving one of the 30 pledges: to secure a range of options to access Higher Education in the Swindon (pledge 19). By concentrating initially on post-graduate teaching, particularly archaeology, the Hub will be helping provide students with a qualification that is in high demand. The CPD courses could prove to be very beneficial for local employers as they would provide a cost-effective way of ensuring staff continue to develop to respond to changing business needs. The hub will also widen the range of opportunities to students locally as it will reach out to a different audience than the Oxford Brookes University campus at West Swindon.

This illustrates how Swindon is prepared to be innovative and pragmatic in the way it finds solutions. We are using the different opportunities from different universities to provide the widest range of courses for local residents rather than just seeking our own campus-based university.

As well as the educational benefits to the town, the creation of the Hub in the Carriage Works will continue the exciting work the Council is undertaking through FSL to transform this vital part of our heritage. It is another example of how this Council is committed to finding sustainable uses for our heritage sites.

I know that many of you will now ask: what is being done about the Corn Exchange? What about the Mechanics’? Neither of these is owned by the Council but I remain committed to working with any businesses, groups or individuals who can raise the millions of pounds necessary to develop or restore these sites and then offer a sustainable use for them.