JAMES GRAY MP Report to Cricklade Town Council Monday 24th February 2014

JAMES GRAY MP    Portcullis01


The New Year will bring some new focus in various parts of the town and district’s lives.
Planning, and opportunistic large-scale applications by developers must remain top of our “watch-out” list. Ridgeway farm was a great disappointment; but we must beware of several similar applications to follow.  A Tesco application with 350 or so houses attached to it would more or less merge Royal Wootton Bassett and Hook, and would be another step towards coalescence with Swindon. The same threat exists to the north – the developers would lay their hands on the valuable land between Swindon, Purton and Cricklade if they possibly could. In the time until the Core Strategy is finally adopted, and relying on the Inspector’s initial reaction that Wiltshire needs 5000 more houses, the developers will snatch every opportunity of rushing through applications while they can. We must all be alert, and determined to stop them.
Everyone is worried about recent announcements from Network Rail of various bridge closures over 2014 to accommodate the electrification of the Great Western main line (and the redoubling of the Swindon/Kemble line.) The Minety railbridge closure played havoc with traffic for a time, then those around Sherston/Luckington. While welcoming the electrification I am very concerned about the effect which the closures might have on the life of the area, and have let my concerns be known both to the County and to Network Rail. They must handle the closures and diversions in as sensitive and planned way as they can to try to minimise inconvenience and disruption to local people.
A week or so ago I was glad to take part in the ‘sod-turning’ ceremony at Lyneham, marking the start of the £121 million investment in rebuilding the base. I was very pleased that the new contractors ,‘Hercules’ as they have called themselves, committing to using as many local small and medium sized sub-contractors as they can which will be very good news for the local economy. I was also delighted to hear a commitment to attracting various other technical training bases from around England to the site in the future, which will mean any ever greater shot in the arm for the local community.
I am glad that this year Cricklade – and the whole of North Wiltshire – was spared from the very worst of the flooding. That is at least partly because of the large amount of money which the Council have spent on flood prevention in the last twelve months since we were deluged last year. All of the signs are that this wet weather is likely to be an annual event, and we must keep up the pressure to clear waterways and put flood prevention and alleviation measures in place to prepare for worse events in the years to come.
My Cricklade surgeries are as busy as ever (in the splendidly refurbished Jenner Hall), and I much enjoyed speaking to the Cricklade  Women’s Institute last Friday – in the romantically lit Town Hall extension (a power cut meant that we only had candles.)
Exciting and challenging times lie ahead, and I wish the Town Council well in your deliberations and actions. The future of the people of your wonderful town is in your very capable hands.

Report to Cricklade Town Council
Monday 24th February 2014

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