James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire has welcomed £2,115,269 of Conservative Government funding for bus companies and Wiltshire to extend the £2 bus fare cap, as part of a £500 million investment to freeze bus fares nationally and improve vital local routes – ensuring passengers can continue to ‘Get Around for £2’ while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the sector.  

The Government is investing £200 million in extending the cap for single bus fares at £2 outside of London until October 2023, and then at £2.50 until 30 November 2024.  

Although the initial cap – announced at the start of this year – was introduced as a temporary measure, the scheme has successfully encouraged many more people to use local bus services, benefitting local economies, supporting jobs, and helping passengers with the cost of living.  

A further £300 million has been announced to protect routes and services that are relied on for work, education, medical appointments, and shopping. As part of this, local transport authorities will receive £160 million to improve fares, services, and infrastructure, while £140 million will directly support operators in protecting essential services.  

Across North Wiltshire, journeys including on the 55 bus route linking Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon will be reduced to £2. 

Commenting, James Gray said: 

“Buses are vital to people across North Wiltshire helping people to access work, education, shops, and appointments – and keeping the cost of fares down will make a real difference to the lives of the millions of people who use them every day.  

“That is why I am delighted the Government will be committing £500 million across the country, extending the £2 cap fare and protecting and improving vital local routes. 

“This will help people to keep costs down, as the Government works to halve inflation, grow the economy, and reduce debt.” 

Commenting, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:  

“Taking the bus is the most popular form of public transport and millions of people rely on these vital services every day. 

“This half a billion pounds investment will help people save money amid cost of living pressures and continue to level up transport in all parts of the country, doing our bit to help halve inflation and grow the economy.” 

James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire has welcomed £6,980,000 of Government funding to make the A3102 which links Melksham, Calne and Swindon, safer for drivers and prevent fatal and serious injuries.

The funding is part of a £50 million package provided by the Government through the Safer Roads Fund to improve the safety of 27 of the country’s most dangerous roads.

This new funding builds on the £100 million already provided through the programme which includes the Government working with local authorities and safety groups to improve our roads.

According to Road Safety Foundation analysis, early estimates suggest that the £47.5 million investment should prevent around 760 fatal and serious injuries over the next 20 years, with a benefit to society of £420 million.

The fund follows the actions the Government has already taken to improve road safety, including banning any use of handheld mobile phones behind the wheel and updating the Highway Code to introduce a hierarchy of road users, which places road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.

Commenting James Gray MP said: 

“Unsafe roads can be fatal for drivers, and we must increase road safety to ensure people can get on with their day to day lives without harm.

“That is why I am delighted the Government have provided Wiltshire Council with nearly £7 million of funding, the largest allocation in this round of the fund, to fix the A3102 and improve the route for drivers.

“This vital funding will not only save lives but improve day-to-day journeys for people getting to work or to visit friends and family.” 

Transport Secretary Mark Harper added: 

“Britain’s roads are some of the safest in the world, but we are always looking at ways to help keep drivers and all road users safe.

“We’re injecting £47.5 million so that local councils around the country have the support they need to keep everyone safe, while reducing congestion and emissions and supporting local economies.”

James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces last week joined fellow parliamentarians and LGBTQ+ Veterans at a reception for the charity Fighting With Pride.

Fighting With Pride supports LGBTQ+ Veterans, service personnel and their families with their health and wellbeing. It particularly supports those impacted by the ban on LGBTQ+ people serving in the military before January 2000.

The reception follows James raising the issue of LGBT veterans’ rights in the House of Commons with the Minister for Defence People and Veterans last year.

Commenting after the reception James said: “I was pleased to hear speeches by LGBTQ+ veterans and reiterate my commitment to ensuring the historic injustices experienced by those veterans are corrected.” He added “I look forward to reading Lord Etherton’s recommendations in the LGBT Veterans Independent Review when it is published and will continue to hold the Government to account over this matter.”

“I am honoured and delighted to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for the new South Cotswolds Parliamentary Constituency,” said James Gray on Saturday. “I am so sorry to be losing some of my old North Wiltshire constituency, especially Royal Wootton Bassett and Box where I have many friends; but I keep Malmesbury and Cricklade and gain Cirencester, Tetbury, Lechlade and Fairford as well as many villages in between.”  

Big changes in the make up of constituencies across the country will take effect at the next General Election and one of the most dramatic will be the formation of the new South Cotswolds seat which straddles Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.  James Gray MP, who has represented North Wiltshire since 1997, has just been unanimously selected to represent the new constituency.   

With a strong record of representing businesses, the military and individuals in the area he is particularly active in Parliament on environmental and rural matters. He is one of the Speaker’s Committee Chairmen.  Before his election James was a Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Environment prior to which he had a career in the City and served in the Territorial Army. 

“I am so pleased to have been asked to represent what must be one of the loveliest areas in Britain.”   

Mr Gray and his wife Philippa live in Wiltshire but have strong links with Gloucestershire. “We have lived in the region for many years and have friends throughout the new seat, so it is all very familiar. Philippa was born just outside Lechlade and attended the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.  I relish the opportunity to get to know the area more intimately, meet new people and look forward to new challenges that lie ahead”.

James Gray MP has welcomed news that the Government has awarded more than £26 million to Great Western Hospitals to expand urgent and emergency care – improving care for people in Swindon and Wiltshire.

The government investment comes on top of £5.4 million in internal funding available to the Trust, and represents the biggest ever investment to the hospital site and one the biggest that the NHS in the South West has seen.

Greater bed capacity and better flow through the hospital will better equip it to manage increasing demand from the area’s growing population.

Health Minister Lord Markham said

This is a significant milestone for the 750,000 people in Swindon – the expansion of the urgent and emergency care facilities at the Great Western Hospital will mean more people can be treated closer to home, improving patient experience and ensuring staff are better equipped to manage increasing demand.

“Backed by over £26 million of government funding – the biggest ever investment in this site – a single urgent and emergency care unit will be created, combining a number of different services under one roof to enable patients to receive the right care more quickly, boosting health outcomes and reducing the time spent in hospital.

“This is part of our commitment to upgrade hospitals across the country and improve access to emergency care, to provide the best possible services for patients and staff.”

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Kevin McNamara said:

“This is an extraordinary milestone for the organisation, and is the biggest investment we have made to the hospital site since it opened 20 years ago.

“Expanding and improving our urgent and emergency care services will make a huge difference to the 750,000 people living in Swindon and the wider area, many of whom will come to us for care at some point in their lives

“When the hospital was first built, the Emergency Department was designed to care for around 48,000 patients a year. As the local population has grown, the department is now seeing up to 83,000 patients a year – nearly double.

“We knew that this was not sustainable, and I’m pleased that the time has now come for us to be able to expand and streamline our services so that they can meet the demand.

“The new building will also provide a better experience for patients, with more space, modernised facilities and fully inclusive accessibility.”

James Gray MP added:

“I know the hard-working staff and patients at the Great Western will welcome today's announcement. This investment will ensure that my constituents and those across Wiltshire continue to have access to top rate Emergency and Urgent care services. This record investment in the Great Western Hospital underlines this Governments commitment to the NHS and all those in North Wiltshire”

In July 2022, the new Urgent Treatment Centre was opened on the Great Western Hospital site, which marked the first phase of the urgent and emergency care expansion.

Now, efforts are focused on refurbishing and expanding the Emergency Department, and relocating a number of other services, including assessment units, to create one single urgent and emergency care service.

This new ‘front door’ will also have a new Children’s Emergency Department, which will be adjacent to a Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU).

The new urgent and emergency care expansion will bring together Emergency Department majors, Emergency Department resuscitation, observation, Same Day Emergency Care and Joint Initial Assessment in one space. The Children’s Emergency Department will sit alongside it.

All of these services will also link directly with the Urgent Treatment Centre, so that patients can easily be moved around the department to receive the right care depending on their clinical needs.

Expanding Same Day Emergency Care will reduce admissions and shorten length of stay. The co-location of services will also ensure a more rapid discharge for patients who do not need admitting to a ward, and quicker handover times for ambulance crews so they can get back on the road. 

Moving some services from other areas of the hospital, such as the Paediatric Assessment Unit currently located on the second floor, to the ground floor will also free up space for more clinical activity or inpatient beds.

Enabling works have already started to prepare the site for construction. This includes clearing the space outside of the Emergency Department and rerouting the urgent and emergency care entrance through the Urgent Treatment Centre.