A FEW things to cover this week all neatly linked together by the Centre for Cities Outlook report I talked about last week and our Switch on to Swindon (SOTS) themes. We are busy publishing all of the key facts from the outlook report on our social media channels along with a dedicated page on the website – www.switchontoswindon.com/news/cities-outlook-2018/ The report is important because it adds to our evidence base and helps us identify where Swindon has a competitive advantage. I have spoken in recent columns about how Swindon has become one of the most attractive places in the country for people with families to move to and people who are looking to move out of London and relocate to the West along the M4 corridor.

Availability of housing and the value for money compared to other areas is clearly one of our competitive advantages and we need to ensure that it remains so. Continued housing growth is a priority then but it has to be good growth which means high quality developments that offer choice and value.

Above all we need developments that are well connected to the rest of the town so it was great to see Swindon secure Government funding last week for two major highway schemes in the eastern part of the town. The £11.5m funding will support essential infrastructure and speed up housebuilding in two major development areas.

Connectivity to the region and the rest of the country is another one of Swindon’s advantages. With electrification on the horizon our rail links make Swindon an even more attractive proposition to businesses and people wishing to live and work here, notwithstanding the ongoing debate on fares. Given how important the railway is I feel compelled to draw attention to the current consultation on the Great Western Rail franchise which runs until the 21st February. There is a comprehensive document online and a range of questions which can be accessed here - www.gov.uk/government/consultations/great-western-rail-franchise

At the risk of labouring the point SOTS is in the business of identifying Swindon’s competitive advantages and making the most of them to secure economic growth. To make sure our rail links remain an advantage we need to have a say in the future of the franchise so I encourage as many of you as possible to take part in the consultation.

Something else I want to encourage people to get involved in and support is the ambitious project at the Science Museum at Wroughton, one of Swindon’s hidden gems. The Science Museum Group wants to transform how it cares for and shares its collection by investing in new facilities at the Wroughton site. A new building at the site will become home to more than 340,000 objects and will speed up the process of preparing objects for loan to other organisations, or for display in new galleries and exhibitions across the country. The really great thing is that the building will be regularly open to the public through a varied programme of tours, learning and research visits.

A planning application is in and you can look at details here – www.group.sciencemuseum.org.uk/new-collections-management-facility-at-wroughton/

So, I’m well and truly getting off the fence here – have a look at the plans and please show your support for this fantastic project which will help us switch even more people on to Swindon.