Yesterday I sent the same email to the 5 parliamentary candidates for Swindon with 4 questions – basically asking them directly what they’re going to do for Swindon. See here
The Conservative candidate and current MP for Swindon North was the first to respond, replying at 23:57 on Sunday night, approximately 4 hours after my initial email was sent. Impressive.
Here are his answers, presented in full:
Question 1: Culture.
Swindon is in a prime location along the M4 corridor, with easy access to London, Reading, Bristol and Cardiff, and is surrounded by some beautiful countryside. This is often the only response I can give to associates who ask me about the benefits of living in Swindon – that it’s close to lots of nice places! What can you do to make Swindon itself a nicer place to visit, and what will you do to change the image of the town?
This is an area I am particularly interested in, both as prior to the General Election I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the DCMS department, and prior to being the MP for North Swindon I spent 4 years as the Lead Member for Leisure, Culture and Recreation on Swindon Borough Council.
I therefore led the project team that delivered the award winning £10m Central Library. I helped secure the additional funding for STEAM museum that helped significantly boost visitor numbers and income, securing the viability of this fantastic facility. I supported the refurbishment of the Arts Centre in Old Town and Wyvern Theatre, both venues I have used a lot as a customer. I also supported the £5m investment in Lydiard Park, and I am pleased to see that Swindon Borough Council is now working towards a new Art Gallery. I am keen to see within a new Art Gallery that we would have space for local artists to both work and display their work, alongside our current collection and touring collections.
I welcomed the £50m investment for the Oasis, which whilst primarily leisure, would include a 5,000 / 10,000 seat concert venue, a welcome boost for Swindon.
We have recently seen the completion of the £35m Regent Circus development, kick-starting the much needed Town Centre regeneration.
This will help provide further opportunities to improve the perception of our town and for new cultural and night-tome economy developments / facilities to come forward.
Question 2: Transport
The Swindon to London rail route is famous for being one of the most expensive £per mile rail journeys in the country – considering that this country is known to have one of the most expensive rail networks in Europe, that’s a pretty impressive penny. What will you do to ensure a fairer price for your constituents who work in – or wish to visit – the capital?
I have been very active on this issue as your MP.
Firstly, during this Parliament we have made sure the gap between us, and surrounding areas (ie Didcot) has closed. I would continue to push on this.
Secondly, the Government rightly capped fare increases, ending the disgraceful annual 10%+ rises we saw under the last Labour Government.
Thirdly, we have been delivering the largest investment into our railways since Victorian times.
For our Great Western Main Line this investment is crucial to increasing capacity, reliability and speed of service. This is vital as the service has been put under considerable strain by ageing rolling stock and a 50% increase in passenger numbers in the last 10 years alone. Crucially this investment will also reduce the upwards pressure on train fares as we will take advantage of the increased capacity and modern, efficient rolling stock.
The investment includes:
£7.8bn is being spent on electrification of our services, including cutting between 10-15 minutes off the Swindon to London Paddington journey. The redoubling of the Swindon – Kemble line, driving up frequency and speed for commuters between Swindon and Cheltenham.The major improvements and expansions to stations including the £1bn upgrade of Reading station, helping increase capacity and removing bottlenecks.The delivery of new state of the art carriages, transforming our ageing rolling stock.
This investment is vital not just to commuters or day trippers, but it also helps drive local economic growth, strengthening Swindon’s position as a place for businesses to relocate and invest, providing the next generation of jobs. Swindon is also directly benefiting from the considerable new engineering roles offered by Network Rail to carry out this work, a real boost for our local economy.
Question 3: Business
There are quite a lot of corporations with their headquarters in Swindon: Nationwide, Intel and WH Smith to name just three. Considering that Swindon has a much cheaper way of life, but is less than an hour from the capital. What can you do to encourage companies who are looking to cut down their operational costs to relocate from London to Swindon – in the process, opening up a much more attractive job market in the town for it’s residents?
I have done a huge amount on this as your MP. Prior to being elected I ran my own business in Swindon for 10 years. (I sold it once I was elected so I could solely focus on my role as an MP). I am a Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party, and both in Parliament and Swindon I regularly meet with businesses, retailers, developers and agencies to help promote Swindon. In the last 5 years we have seen 5,345 new businesses start up in Swindon – the fastest growth rate in the South-West, which has helped secure an extra 7,100 jobs for local residents. We have seen a number of major businesses relocate to Swindon, or existing ones expanding their operations. We are very much a town on the up and no-one has more passion and energy to promote our town. You can see on my website: www.justintomlinson.com the extensive work I have done in this area.
What other priorities do you have for Swindon that you haven’t already mentioned? In short, why should the people of Swindon vote for you?
I have worked very hard to champion our town in the last 5 years. I am the first North Swindon MP to be a local resident. I am approachable, visible and enthusiastic. I was recently voted the 3rd most helpful MP in Parliament when dealing with residents casework.
My sole focus has been fulfilling my duties as the MP and I have one of the highest voting and speaking records in Parliament, so I am making sure Swindon is well represented.
I have attached my recent letter to local residents setting out the above.
As a fellow local resident I want to continue to champion our town, securing new businesses, investment and facilities. We are very much a town on the up and we much to be proud of. As the MP, my role is to be an advocate, a strong voice and I am very active in organizing meetings, forums and events to bring together the key people / businesses / organisations to make sure we continue to improve.
I am very proud of the positive difference I have made for Swindon and I am the only candidate to have secured support from people right across the political spectrum.
You can see more of the work I have done on my website: http://www.justintomlinson.com
Tomlinson did indeed include a copy of the letter – which reiterated several of the points made in his answers above, but also highlighted some other information, focusing mainly on the £24m invested into schools, a further £140m that has been invested into local infrastructure funding and 10 main points about the current government in general.
Make of all of this what you will, I’ll reserve judgement until I see the other answers from the other candidates.