James Gray MP has spoken out against plans made by Wiltshire Council and Chippenham Town Council to build a relief road around the eastern side of Chippenham. Proposals have recently been announced that could see a £75 million link road built around the town, and would see the development of 7,500 more houses by 2043.

James Gray wrote to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to stress his opposition to the plans stating that:

“I am horrified by a bid made by a Wiltshire Councillor for HIT funding of some £75 million towards what is effectively a ring road around the edge of Chippenham… It breaches every aspect of the Neighbourhood Plan, which specifies that the Eastern side of the town of Chippenham has outstanding natural and community value, and that it should not be built on in any circumstances.

HIT funding, as I understand it, demands full public support and I can tell you that there has been no public consultation at all. The parish councils of Bremhill and Tytherton Lucas are opposed to it, as am I.

This proposed road is a serious desecration of the countryside and should not, under any circumstances, be allowed.”

More children across North Wiltshire will be able to access a world-class education thanks to a major funding boost. The Conservative Government has confirmed schools in this constituency will receive 5.3% more funding per pupil next year as part of the recent multi-billion investment in primary and secondary education.

James Gray MP has welcomed this new funding, saying the commitment that every secondary school pupil will receive a minimum of £5,000 next year and every primary school pupil will receive a minimum of £4,000 by 2021-22 would reassure parents of the Government’s promise to deliver the best for their children.

This funding follows the Prime Minister’s announcement in August that the budget for schools and high needs would be increased by a total of over £14 billion over three years, rising to £52.2 billion by 2022-23. Schools and local authorities will today find out how the first part of that investment - £2.6 billion - will be allocated for the coming year.

The extra money, available from April, will ensure that per-pupil funding for all schools can rise at least in line with inflation and will deliver promised gains in full for areas which have been historically under-funded

James Gray welcomed the funding boost and stated that:

‘Every child in my constituency deserves a high quality education and I welcome this announcement. I am glad that each pupil will receive £4,547 of funding, an increase of 5.3%, and I am certain that it will increase standards in our schools.

‘I work closely with many of the schools in my constituency and am aware of the very real pressures that schools have been facing. I hope this extra funding for pupils and teachers will bring great benefits to the schools in my constituency.’

During Questions for The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the House of Commons on Thursday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray praised the role that British institutions have played in tackling climate change. Mr Gray stated:

“One way in which the UK can truly lead the world in this generational battle against climate change is through climate science, in particular polar science. In that respect, I pay tribute to the father of the hon. Member for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin), after whom the McMorrin glacier in Antarctica is named. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State join me in congratulating ​British scientists in universities and institutions throughout Britain, who make a vast contribution to polar and climate science, and will she, today of all days, pay tribute to the launch of SS David Attenborough from Birkenhead, and perhaps make passing tribute to the great man himself?”

Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy agreed with Mr Gray’s statement, responding that:

“Yes, the RSS David Attenborough—“Boaty McBoatface”—is launching today. I am always delighted to pay tribute to David Attenborough, whose series on Earth and our oceans have brought home to so many people the urgent need for action. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (James Gray), himself a bit of an Arctic explorer who has done a great deal to highlight climate change, and we should be grateful to him for that.”

The Secretary of State was speaking following the UN climate action summit in New York and stressed that action must be taken to tackle the climate crisis that the planet is facing. This is an issue which James Gray is extremely passionate, and following the debate he added that:

“Climate change is real; it is here; and it is our doing. We must now act- dramatically and decisively- to halt; and then, we hope, reverse it. I am proud of the Government’s record on climate change, but there is always more to do. That is why I am so glad that British scientists and individuals such as David Attenborough are leading the way to tackle this growing problem.”

The Home Office has today confirmed the officer recruitment targets for police forces for the first year of the unprecedented drive to increase their ranks by 20,000 over the next three years.

Strengthening police numbers is a priority for the Government, which is providing £750 million to support forces to recruit up to 6,000 additional officers onto our streets by the end of 2020-21, the first stage in this new uplift.

Police forces in the South West will be able to recruit a total of 423 new officer, including 49 new officers in Wiltshire, which will increase their officer numbers by 5%.

James Gray MP endorsed this announcement stating that:

“I was pleased to hear that Wiltshire Police will be able to recruit 49 more officers in year one of the three-year national campaign to recruit 20,000 officers. Wiltshire Police do a fantastic job for our community; I hope that this new funding will allow them to continue to meet the real pressures they face, and be more able to help prevent crime and better support victims of crime. It is an announcement which I wholeheartedly support.

Wiltshire in one of the safest of all Counties, but that should not blind us to the rise in rural crime, and especially in knife crime. We are also a target for the ‘County Lines’ drug gangs, and must be vigilant for the harm which they cause. These extra officers will play a crucial role in Keeping Wiltshire Safe.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside. This is the people’s priority and it is exactly what the Government is delivering.

This means there will be more than 400 more officers across the South West, helping to reassure communities and keep them safe.”

All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies. They are also on top of the extra officers already being recruited because of the £1 billion increase in police funding for 2019-20, which includes money from council tax and for serious violence.

The Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, James Gray joined, George Croxford, Ralph Plummer and Tim Gilson, the Head Teachers of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, Abbeyfield School and Malmesbury School this Wednesday, to meet with Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Education. Together they highlighted the issues currently facing North Wiltshire schools, specifically the difficulties caused by PFI, as well as focusing on school funding.

James Gray MP said:

“It was great to welcome the Head Teachers from local North Wiltshire Schools to Parliament to discuss the pressures that schools are currently facing. All three of these schools are outstanding; they deliver excellent results and produce well-rounded young adults. It is only right that they are provided with the resources they need to continue this excellent work.

I thought it was a productive meeting, and I was glad that the Head Teachers had an opportunity to share their concerns with the Minister. I will ask officials at the Department of Education to look into the specific PFI issues raised.”

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Education had previously written to James about this issue, and stated that:

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. Spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be set at the next Spending Review, and whilst we cannot pre-empt these decisions, we are committed to securing the right deal for education.”