From Michelle Donelan MP <[email protected]>
Subject THIS FRIDAY - Wiltshire's Biggest Careers Fair is BACK! 👨‍🔬👷‍♂️👮‍♂️
Date January 17, 2024 12:15 PM
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Welcome to my latest newsletter, I hope you are well. As ever, if there is anything I can do to help, or if you would like to speak to me at one of my upcoming surgeries, please do let me know.

On Friday 25 August, I am holding a special auction and dinner to help raise money for the Melksham Free Diners, a fantastic local charity who provide free meals and social events for older local residents. The group are looking to raise additional funding to help them open for an extra day each week, extending what is already an invaluable community service.

There are some fantastic prizes up for auction, generously donated for the event by a whole host of local businesses. The event starts at 6pm at Melksham Town Hall, with dinner from 7pm, and tickets are £15 each. 

Fish and chips (or vegetarian burger) with dessert is on the menu, so it would be fantastic to see as many people there as possible! To RSVP please reply to this email or give my office a call on 01249 704465.
Work Experience Program 2023
📣 Do you know a local young person who might want to take part in my Summer Work Experience Program 2023? There are still some spaces left! 👍

📍It’s a really exciting opportunity to spend a week in my constituency office in Chippenham next month! Those taking part will get to experience the variety of the role.
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📆 This year’s program will be taking place the W/C 21st August - it’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in a career in politics, journalism, PR, or business for example, and would be a great addition to a CV or a UCAS form!

📝 Please do share with any young people who might be interested in taking part, and ask them to email me with their details and a couple of lines on why they want to join!
Minister Visit To Whaddon Grove
Lovely to bring Environment Minister Trudy Harrison MP to meet with myself and Richard last month, who runs Whaddon Gove Farm in the constituency. 

In case you are not already aware, Whaddon Grove is a small organic family farm that operate to organic standards, raising traditional breeds of slow-maturing sheep and cattle. Their animals are healthy and live a stress and drug-free life outdoors according to traditional farming practices. 
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Great to catch up with Richard and hear how the farm is going from strength to strength. Richard and his wife are doing a fantastic job on their farm to encourage biodiversity net gain, especially working with beavers. 

The Minister was very receptive to Richard's ideas on how we can better support small-scale farmers and how we can work with our farmers to reach our climate goals. 
Additional Funding For Our Local Bus Services...!
Fantastic news that we have secured a further £2.1 million of Government funding from the Department for Transport for improving local bus routes and services in Wiltshire. The funding will be allocated to Wiltshire Council to improve the quality of services in line with its Bus Service Improvement Plan. 

This could include more frequent services, improving the reliability of services and continuing to upgrade real time signage and bus stops.
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This local investment comes in addition to the Government's £2 bus fare cap, which I know has been hugely popular locally and has now been extended until this October. To help continue funding local routes and help people with the cost of living, bus fares will continue to remain affordable by being capped at £2.50 until November 2024.
Keeping Our Streets Safe
Extra funding to keep our streets safe: I have worked with fellow Wiltshire MPs to secure a further £1.4 million from the Government's Safer Streets Fund, on top of the £2.6 million already secured for projects across the county since 2020.

I know that we have seen a small increase in anti-social behaviour in Melksham recently, for example, and it has also been an issue over in Devizes, so this funding will help local officers to tackle this and other crimes locally, including making sure that officers can spend more time on our streets. 
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Some of the projects the Safer Streets Funding has been used to support already includes 👇


🏡 Initiatives tackling neighbourhood crime

🛡️ Reducing Violence Against Women and Girls

📸 Mobile CCTV vans

📣 Community engagement workshops

👨‍🏫 Increased youth engagement

📍  Mobile units across villages - really important in rural areas like ours 


Last year I ran a series of virtual Community Crime Forums covering the whole constituency for you to have your say and raise concerns with your local officers - the encouraging news from these was that most crimes in the area are down overall.

This new funding we have secured, however, will ensure that Wiltshire Police can tackle those remaining issues which we are seeing locally, in addition to work the Government is doing nationally to keep our towns and villages safe.
Whitley and Shaw Summer Fair
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Brilliant summer family music fair organised by Community Action Whitley & Shaw last month. The weather was fantastic, the live music was great, and the Classic Cars were very impressive. After last year, I did not fancy having a go at the wellie wanging! Brought my Bella some treats from Woozelbears Melksham branch too. A big thank you to all the standholders and the volunteers who gave up their time to make the fair such a success. 
Democracy Workshops
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Great to return to Melksham Oak Community School at the start of the month to meet with their Sixth Form criminology students. Enjoyed speaking with the students and answering all of their questions on how Parliament works and how our laws are made!

I also held another workshop at The Mead Primary School in Hilperton, who were awarded the International School Award last year. I had the privilege of attending the awards ceremony in Parliament but unfortunately the school were not able to make it on the day, so it was great to visit and congratulate the children on their achievement in person.

As your local MP, I always look forward to visiting our schools and speaking with students, who are always full of exciting ideas for the future and for our community. 
Win On Local Fuel Prices
A really promising win on fairer prices at the pumps - last Summer lots of folks noticed that whilst fuel prices were already high, there were huge price differences between towns, at garages owned by the same brand.

I thought this was unfair and raised it with the Department for Transport, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Sainsbury's, who I met to make the case for fairer local prices. The CMA have looked at this in detail, so I asked them to include local data in their work - they found that as wholesale fuel costs dropped, retailers were not passing this saving, or the government’s 5p fuel duty cut, onto drivers. 

This is completely unfair, and so today the government has confirmed that it will introduce new laws to force retailers to be more transparent on their prices, through a new fuel price reporting scheme.

For the first time, drivers will easily be able to compare prices in real time in any area of the UK, and identify those charging fair prices vs those failing to pass on savings from falling wholesale costs. 

This new scheme is expected to lead to greater transparency and competition – in turn driving down prices and easing the cost of living, whilst giving drivers a fairer deal at the pump. Thank you to all of those who brought the issue to my attention back in the Summer so I could raise this.
Further Support For Local Farmers
Great news for local farming - a further £122,623 has been awarded to farmers and foresters in our community through the Government’s Farming Equipment and Tech Fund. This investment will support local farmers with boosting productivity, reducing waste, cutting costs and improving environmental sustainability.  
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Nationally we have committed to investing a huge £2.4 billion in our British farmers each year, alongside a raft of new measures to support farmers announced last month.  

You may have also seen a couple of weeks ago I worked with other Wiltshire MP’s to secure £2.6 million from the Government’s Rural Prosperity Fund - this investment will help to turbocharge our rural economy so it can thrive. 
Other News In Brief
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* Congratulations to Spencer Melksham Bowls Club - earlier this year I posted about the Asda Green Token scheme, which gives people the opportunity to vote for a local group of their choice, and I am delighted to see that the club were presented with a cheque for £1600 in June! The funding from Asda has been used to provide the group with new equipment - a huge congratulations to them and thank you to those who give up their time to run the club. 
* More fantastic work from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust - the Melksham, Chippenham and Calne branch are creating a new area of woodland along a restored section of the canal near Lacock. A range of mature trees will further boost biodiversity and the mix of planting will provide flowers, fruit and berries throughout the year. I met some of the Trust members at my office earlier this year, so very much looking forward to seeing more of their plans coming to fruition!
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* Melksham Lions Club presented both Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the Freewheelers with cheques for £1000 each from the proceeds of their Easter Raffle - a huge thank you to everyone at the Lions for their tireless work for the community and to those who supported the raffle. Having met and supported both charities over the years they are incredible worthwhile local causes and do incredible work for the community!
* Do you know a local group or space in our community who could benefit from a defibrillator? The Government has launched a £1 million fund to support the purchase of 1000 additional defibrillators across England. Applicants could be town halls, sports groups, charities or any space which benefits the community, so please do share locally. You can apply to receive the funding here [[link removed]].
* Could you be Melksham's next Town Crier? Melksham Town Council are looking for a willing local volunteer to take over the position of Town Crier, after Peter Dauncey stepped back from the role in April. Criteria for the role includes having a booming voice as well as a passion for the community! Application forms are available now on the Town Council's website and an audition day will then take place on 3 September at the Food and River Festival. 
Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter – please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can help with, or if you would like to speak to me at my next surgery.

Best wishes,
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Michelle Donelan

Member of Parliament for Chippenham Constituency

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61 New Road, Chippenham, SN15 1ES

You can contact me via email: [email protected] or by phone: 01249 704465

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