From Michelle Donelan <[email protected]>
Subject My Mid-Year Update
Date May 26, 2023 5:13 PM
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An update on my work for our community so far this year |

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Welcome to my latest newsletter, I hope you are well. As we quickly approach the middle of the year, I wanted to take the opportunity to update you on my work for our community so far this year.

To start on a personal note, I am blessed to have welcomed a beautiful baby boy to my family. Whilst I am taking a short break from my Ministerial role at the Department, I am continuing to be active in our community as your local MP, so please do get in touch if there is anything I can help with.

So far this year we have already made a huge amount of progress for our community - this includes millions of pounds of investment I have secured for our local schools and our healthcare services, as well as progressing my campaigns for our towns, supporting our farmers and the environment, keeping our streets safe, and hosting a packed digital skills event for local businesses.

I also know that the cost of living continues to be a worry for many families, so we have put a range of support in place to help with this, including energy bill help and supporting the most vulnerable families with an additional ยฃ1350 in Cost of Living Payments, with additional support for those on disability benefits and for pensioners.

Earlier this year I held a drop in session at my office in Chippenham for people to check that they are receiving all of the support they are entitled to - if you have any questions about what support you may be eligible for, or if there is anything else I may be able to help with, please do get in touch.

** Supporting Wiltshire Success Stories!

โš™๏ธ I have already visited some fantastic Wiltshire success stories this year, including global firm Hitachi and engineering firm AB dynamics at their sites in Bradford on Avon, as well as Ark Data Centre in Corsham.

๐Ÿš… I was given a very interesting demonstration of the cutting edge simulation training they use at Hitachi to improve both the efficiency and the safety of the railway network - so work being done here is helping improve infrastructure up and down the country. AB Dynamics, meanwhile have grown by X4 in the last 5 years - a great local success story and a quality job creator.๐Ÿ”ง

๐ŸŒŽ The work that Ark Data Centre do has resulted in ยฃ500 million of inward investment going into the site in Corsham. Brilliant to see Wiltshire continue to be a hub for design, tech and innovation, with products developed here on our doorstep heading right around the world, and providing high quality jobs for local people. ๐Ÿš€

** Further Investment In Our Local Schools

๐Ÿ“ฃ Since becoming your MP in 2015, I have consistently campaigned for further education funding for our local schools, as I have always believed that a quality education is the key to helping every child reach their full potential, no matter what background they come from.

๐ŸŽ“ I also saw the importance of skills, development and quality teaching first-hand during my time on the Education Select Committee, and then over the three years I spent as a Minister at the Department for Education.

๐Ÿš€ Here in Wiltshire, I have most recently helped to secure over ยฃ2.4 million of additional investment for our local primary and secondary schools, and will continue to push for further funding to help our local young people get the quality education they deserve.

** Hosting A Packed Digital Skills Event For Local Businesses

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป It was fantastic to bring Google to the Business Cyber Centre in Chippenham back in March, improving over 70 local small and independent businesses digital skills and marketing with workshops and training!

๐Ÿ“ฃ The day included free digital mentoring to help local people and small businesses upskill and grow, sessions on how to grow a business online and find new customers, and private mentoring sessions experts to focus on personal and business goals.

๐Ÿ“ˆ I was really pleased to see so many local businesses and residents from across the constituency at the event and hear from Googleโ€™s fantastic digital trainers.

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ Since being elected in 2015, I have visited and supported hundreds of small, local and independent businesses and Iโ€™m always keen to help them however I can โ€“ this event was a great way of supporting them to develop their skills.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป A huge thank you to the Business Cyber Centre where this event was held, it really is such a fantastic venue โ€“ I opened the site back in May 2022, which was made possible with ยฃ3.7 million of Government investment.

๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿซ Plus a big thank you to everyone at Google and their trainers who helped to make the event possible!

** Successfully Progressing A Solution To Bradford on Avon Traffic Issues

Earlier this year I called for Bradford on Avon Town Council to get on and accept the offer on the table from Wiltshire Council to progress the modelling needed for a solution to the town's traffic issues.

In March, the Town Council have finally accepted the offer and the modelling will move ahead - having pushed this for many years this is a positive step forward for the town.

๐Ÿ‘‰ I have always been upfront that there is no silver bullet solution to the issue, but we do need to manage the traffic flow through the town.

๐Ÿ‘‰ The temporary one-way scheme introduced during the pandemic didnโ€™t work for all of the town, especially areas like New Road - this is why the modelling is important and it will help secure long term funding for a solution.

๐Ÿ‘‰It would ensure the pavements could be widened making it much safer to walk around the town.

๐Ÿ‘‰ The Town Council agreeing in January to fund half of the modelling, rather than the 2/3 needed, was stopping a solution from moving forward.

๐Ÿ‘‰ This is something which I thought was incredibly frustrating for residents, so in February I urged the Town Council to get on and accept the offer on the table from Wiltshire Council.

The Town Council accepting the offer was a positive step forward, and having successfully progressed this modelling is now underway and is due to take around 6 months to complete. This will assess the impact of any changes in detail and the results of this will then be shared with the community.

** Supporting Our Local Healthcare Services

We know that there are significant challenges facing our healthcare service, so we are doing a huge amount of work and investing more money than ever before to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic and make sure that people get the treatment they need. Locally I have consistently pushed for additional investment, so far helping to secure ๐Ÿ‘‡

โฉ Just over ยฃ3 million for speeding up local discharges and increasing bed capacity

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ ยฃ1.8 million for local mental health services

๐Ÿฆท ยฃ4.7 million for improving access to dentistry in the South West

๐Ÿฅ ยฃ5.67 million for the Royal United Hospital in Bath

๐Ÿ’™ Over ยฃ1 million extra for drug and alcohol treatment in the area

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ Campaigning for additional investment in Melksham and Chippenham Community Hospitals

โœ”๏ธ Running my Local Healthcare Survey to hear as many of your thoughts and experiences as possible, and raising this directly with Ministers and the Integrated Care Board who manage the local NHS budget

๐Ÿ“ฃ Pushing for improvements for those facilities locally which are not delivering for residents

Some of the Government measures introduced nationally include ๐Ÿ‘‡

โ†—๏ธ An Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan, to help reduce wait times, improve experiences for patients, and tackle the unprecedented demand facing our health service, a commitment to offer same day GP appointments for urgent conditions and ending the 8am rush, ยฃ500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund to increase hospital capacity, expanding pharmacy services with ยฃ645 million to reduce demand on GPs and hospitals and changes to NHS pension rules to retain senior clinicians

We are already seeing progress so far with the number of NHS patients waiting more than 18 months for treatment reduced by 90% and paramedics reaching 90% of the sickest patients within 15 minutes.

We do of course know that there is more to do so people get the treatment they need, and locally I will continue to push for additional investment in our services and raise the issues you are experiencing.

** Keeping Our Streets Safe And Delivering On Our Manifesto Commitment

Earlier this year I held the remainder of my four Community Crime Forums, which I organised to cover the whole constituency. Here is an update on local crime in our area. Generally we have seen a reduction in most crimes, which is good news ๐Ÿ‘‡

๐ŸŒพ Rural crime down by between 50 and 60 percent in the area
๐Ÿ“ˆ Number of speeding prosecutions up by 67% in a year
๐ŸšจProsecutions for burglary also increasing

Here are some of the actions and initiatives your local officers will be using going forward to help keep our towns and villages safe ๐Ÿ‘‡

โœ… 98 extra police officers in Wiltshire, delivering on our manifesto commitment
๐Ÿ‘ฎ Increased patrols with dogs and night vision cameras to clamp down on drug use
๐Ÿš— Deploying community speed watch and enforcement officers in the areas directly where you are reporting speeding to myself and the PCC for Wiltshire Philip Wilkinson
๐Ÿ“š More engagement with schools and the community more widely to reduce anti-social behaviour
๐Ÿš” Deploying mobile police stations so rural areas and villages can have a point of contact and a recognisable face for raising concerns
๐Ÿ“ฒ Improvements with IT systems and efficiency, so that our local officers can spend more time on the beat
๐Ÿ“ Greater flexibility with recruitment, and reforming how officers are organised to target resources where they are needed

The manifesto I stood on to become your MP at the last election also included a commitment to recruit 20,000 police offers across the country - a promise we delivered on last month.

๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ The latest data shows this includes 1๏ธโƒฃ6๏ธโƒฃ4๏ธโƒฃ extra police officers recruited locally in Wiltshire, on top of normal recruitment to replace officers who leave or retire.

๐Ÿ“ˆ After a big push from the Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson:, we now have 1๏ธโƒฃ1๏ธโƒฃ6๏ธโƒฃ4๏ธโƒฃ officers in the force in Wiltshire to help keep our towns and villages safe - higher than the target set by the Government. If you have any concerns which you would like to raise with me, please do let me know.

** Supporting Our Farmers And The Environment

๐Ÿšœ ๐ŸŒณ Last month I shared the fantastic news that we have secured ยฃ2.6 million from the Government's Rural Prosperity Fund for Wiltshire, to help support the county and its rural economy to thrive.

This delivers on our commitment to match funding from the previous scheme in place under the EU, taking advantage of Brexit by further tailoring investment to each community and its needs. The funding will be used for Wiltshire Council to ๐Ÿ‘‡

๐ŸŒพ Fund activities that addresses challenges rural communities face
๐Ÿ“ˆ Provide grants for rural communities and businesses
๐Ÿง‘โ€๐ŸŒพ Support local farm diversification
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Fund projects to boost rural tourism
๐Ÿƒ Improve infrastructure in rural areas like electric charging points

This month we have also set out new measures to support and invest in our British farmers and food producers. Announced ahead of a farming summit in Downing Street this week, this includes ๐Ÿ‘‡

โ†—๏ธ A commitment from the Government to protect the interests of farmers in future trade deals and protect our food standards
โ†—๏ธ Strengthening the long-term resilience and sustainability of the sector to provide greater stability for farmers - including from rising costs caused by the illegal invasion of Ukraine
โ†—๏ธ Championing the food industry by investing ยฃ2 million to put Great British produce on display right around the world ๐ŸŒŽ
โ†—๏ธ Investing up to ยฃ30 million to drive forward the latest agri tech and skills
- like the kind seen locally at Lackham College, for example, made possible with ยฃ9 million of investment I helped to secure
โ†—๏ธ Reviewing supply chains for the horticulture and egg industries following the global challenges they have faced
โ†—๏ธ Plans to cut red tape holding farmers back from projects to diversify their land โœ‚๏ธ

๐Ÿ“ˆ This industry is worth a huge ยฃ24 billion to the economy each year just in exports alone, so it is absolutely vital that we support British farmers who help grow our economy and put food on our tables.

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ In July I will be holding a Farmers Roundtable with the NFU - if you are a local farmer or food producer and would like to attend, or if I can help in any way, please do let me know.

** Securing Investment For Our Towns And Services

๐Ÿ’ชInvestment In Our Towns: Some really fantastic progress on investment for our local towns, facilities and services. Here is just some of the Government funding I have campaigned for and helped to secure so far for our community ๐Ÿ‘‡

๐Ÿšง ยฃ26.625 million to dual the remaining sections of the A350 in Chippenham, improve the Bumpers Farm roundabout and deliver a slip road
๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿ’ป ยฃ3.7 million of investment for a Business Cyber Centre in Chippenham, providing a hub for local enterprise
๐Ÿ“ฒ ยฃ2.5 million for Digital Mansion Corsham
๐Ÿ’ก Leading a ยฃ5 million Levelling Up Fund Bid for Melksham House
๐Ÿ›ฃ๏ธ Over ยฃ3.6 million to fix potholes across Wiltshire
๐Ÿš Funding our local bus routes and capping fares at ยฃ2
โญ๏ธ Successfully progressing a solution to the traffic issues in Bradford-on-Avon to the next stage
๐ŸŽญ ยฃ2.2 million National Lottery and Arts Council England Funding - including over ยฃ540,000 for Pound Arts in Corsham and the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon
๐ŸŽž๏ธ ยฃ415,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund - including over ยฃ110,000 for Reel Cinema in Chippenham
๐Ÿ›๏ธ ยฃ449,858 from the Welcome Back Fund - with Wiltshire receiving one of the highest allocations in the country
๐Ÿš‚ ยฃ50,000 to progress my campaign to reopen Corsham Station to the next stage
๐ŸŒณ ยฃ300,00 for tree planting and increasing biodiversity
๐Ÿฆ Successfully campaigning with LINK for a bank hub and depositing services in Melksham

** My Campaign To Upgrade Melksham Hospital

๐Ÿ’š Earlier this year I wrote about the next stage of my campaign to Upgrade Melksham Hospital, which is to build the business case for investment so that we can show an upgraded site in Melksham would be viable, and to bring the community together to find the best way of making it happen.

๐Ÿ’ฌ I met the Integrated Care Board (who manage local NHS services and the budget) last month to make the case to them again, I have invited the Health Secretary to visit the site, and I am also due to sit down with him to discuss it.

๐Ÿ“ˆ Iโ€™ve been campaigning for more funding for our local health services since 2015, and we are putting more money than ever before into the NHS to tackle the problems caused by the pandemic, something I am very supportive of.

๐Ÿก Melksham, however, has had more than its fair share of housing over the years, and local health facilities have not grown in line with these new houses. This has led to local people experiencing difficulties and long waits getting the treatment they need.

โ†—๏ธ Many also have to travel to larger hospitals in Bath, Bristol and Swindon for routine tests and procedures, which can be time consuming, expensive and inaccessible for those relying on public transport to get treatment or visit loved ones.

๐Ÿ”ป The minor injuries unit at Melksham was closed back in 2002 and the last ward was shut in 2007 under the previous Labour Government, something I have always believed would cause capacity issues further down the line.

๐Ÿ“ˆ Securing investment to upgrade the site is a long-term goal for Melksham and the wider area, and whilst it wonโ€™t happen overnight, we know that more equipment, staff and services would make a real difference for accessing treatment, as well as increasing capacity for urgent care at our larger hospitals.

๐Ÿ“ฃ Now we need to build the community case for investment, and show that an upgraded site in Melksham is viable, so I am going to create a steering group to look at the best way of making it happen. The campaign also has the backing of Melkshamโ€™s Conservative Councillor candidates. Please do let me know if you would be interested in getting involved in the steering group.

** Cost of Living Support

I know that increased prices are causing a significant amount of stress for families, so we have taken significant steps this year to help families with the cost of living. Here are some key initiatives we are implementing:

๐Ÿ”‹ Extending the energy price guarantee: We have extended the energy price guarantee until July this year, saving the average household ยฃ160 over three months on their energy bills. This is in addition to the ยฃ400 discount provided by the Government to every billpayer - supporting the average household with half of their energy bill in total.

๐Ÿ’š Supporting low-income households: We are providing further support to low-income households. The first of three further cost-of-living payments has already been paid, with the most vulnerable households receiving ยฃ1,350 of support.

๐Ÿ  Extending the Household Support Fund: We have increased the Household Support Fund to over ยฃ2 billion, ensuring that the most vulnerable households are protected. This allows local authorities to support those who need it the most in their communities. Here in Wiltshire we have secured over ยฃ5 million of further funding for this - helping to support those who may be outside the benefits system.

๐Ÿ‘ถ๐ŸŽ“ Introducing 30 free hours childcare: We are driving down costs for working parents by introducing 30 hours of free childcare per week for children aged 9 months to 4 years, something I have long been raising with the Treasury.

๐Ÿ’ผ๐Ÿ’ท Increasing the National Living Wage: We have increased the National Living Wage by 9.7%, benefiting two million low-paid workers across the country. On average, this increase amounts to ยฃ1,600 per year. We're working hard to ensure everyone receives a fair and decent income.

Earlier this year I ran a Cost of Living and Benefits Drop In session at my office in Chippenham, to answer any questions people might have about the support which is in place. If you have any questions or think you may be eligible for some additional support, please do get in touch so that I can check for you.

** Surgeries So Far This Year

It has been great to see so many folks at my advice surgeries across the constituency so far this year - including regular surgeries at my office in Chippenham, in Semington with Cllr Jonathon Seed, Monkton Farleigh, in Winsley with Cllr Johnny Kidney, at Bowerhill Village Hall, and at Melksham Town Football Club with Cllr Mike Sankey. I hold surgeries right across the constituency, so please do let me know if you would like to book an appointment or if I can help in any way.

** Other Highlights In Brief

โญ๏ธ Last month I launched a new survey ([link removed]) for you to have your say on Chippenham Town Centre. I set up and Chair Chippenham Town Partnership board as I wanted to bring all the key stakeholders in the town round the table to actually commit to investing in our town and working together to make it happen.

๐ŸŒพ I marked National Apprenticeship Week back in February with another fantastic visit to Wiltshire College and their Lackham Campus, meeting the horticulture apprentices who work on site, plus catching up with Principal Iain Hatt. The campus is an award winning leader in agri-tech and land-based teaching, benefitting from ยฃ9 million of Government investment which I helped to secure.

๐Ÿš We have recently announced that we are extending the ยฃ2 bus fare cap further until the end of October, with the cap then remaining at ยฃ2.50 until November 2024, backed by ยฃ300 million of Government funding. I know this is something which has been incredibly popular locally, and this funding will help to protect vital routes and services locally.

๐Ÿš‚ I joined Danny Kruger MP at a stakeholder event at the Corn Exchange in Devizes in March to discuss Wiltshire railways and connectivity. Danny and the team have been working on a campaign to open a train station in Devizes, so I raised my ongoing campaign to reopen Corsham Station - we submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case for a station to the Department for Transport at the end of last year with myself as the lead sponsor.

๐ŸŒณ I also caught up with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust at their HQ over in Devizes earlier this year. The Trust manage over 40 nature reserves across Wiltshire and Swindon, and have some really exciting plans for the future, including for their Care Farms - the site in Broughton Gifford which I visited again last Summer is a fantastic centre for SEND students to learn outdoors.

๐Ÿ”’ From April, more than 21,000 pensioners in our constituency received a 10.1% increase to their state pension - the largest cash increase ever. This record increase is a result of our commitment to the Triple Lock, coming on top of other support like Pension Credit, Winter Fuel Payments, and Pensioner Cost of Living Payments.

โœ… Maintaining the Triple Lock is something I have always consistently supported and pushed for directly since becoming your MP, as I believe it is absolutely vital we support those in later life and make sure everyone receives all of the support they are entitled to.

โ†—๏ธ In January we secured more than ยฃ2.2 million over the next two years for Wiltshire Council to help tackle and prevent homelessness, as part of a further ยฃ654 million Government funding package to support the most vulnerable in our society.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ We have continued to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine for as long as it takes, until Putin has been defeated, and welcomed President Zelenskky to the UK again last week to commit further UK support.

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest newsletter, if there is anything I may be able to help with or if you would like to speak to me at my next surgery, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Best wishes,

Michelle Donelan
Member of Parliament for Chippenham Constituency
Email: [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])
Telephone: 01249 704465
Write: Michelle Donelan MP, 61 New Road, Chippenham, SN15 1ES.

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