Weekly Column 15 March 2018

I had the pleasure of appearing on the South West Sunday Politics show to talk about two topics which are close to my heart, apprenticeships and tackling unscrupulous private parking companies.

Since 2010 there have been three million apprenticeships started in the UK and the target is for another three million between now and 2020. This is an ambitious target but necessary to challenge our skills gap and offer a viable high-quality choice. I spoke on the need to break the stigma associated with apprenticeships and for us to spread the message that they offer fantastic opportunities to learn and earn without accumulating student debt.

I supported a recent Private Members’ Bill when it came before Parliament to regulate the private car parking industry and to ensure that there is one code of conduct which is legally enforceable and provides clarity for all motorists.

It is disgusting that some private parking companies can act with impunity to pray on the most vulnerable and elderly in society and this Bill puts an end to this practice and ensures that law-abiding motorists have the law on their side. I called for better investment in parking infrastructure such as signage and lighting to make all car parks more accessible for older users and safer places for all users.

In a week which included International Women’s Day I was privileged to speak at the BOA women 100 event in Bradford on Avon to celebrate the achievements of local women.

I have never supported quotas for women in Parliament or in business, feeling instead that we need to work to inspire girls and women into these roles and I was delighted that events across Wiltshire sought to do just that.

Last year I hosted the Wiltshire Festival of Engineering, which had the theme of inspiring women in engineering, and with just eight per cent of engineering apprenticeships being taken up by women, we have much work to do if we are to close the STEM skills gap here in Wiltshire.

I have been busy in Parliament recently including asking the Prime Minister to join with me in commending the work of Wiltshire Police and health services with tackling the recent difficult situation in Salisbury. They have highlighted the level of public service and dedication to safety of our emergency services and my thoughts go to Detective Sergeant Bailey and his family.

With the Easter Parliamentary recess around the corner I am conducting an increased number of open surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to speak to me about an issue, ask my opinion on a matter or simply share with me your views then please call my office on 01249 704465 for dates and locations or email me on michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk If you would prefer a private meeting, then I would be happy to arrange this with you, so please do get in touch.