Weekly column 24.05.18

For years I have campaigned against high parking charges in our market towns. They serve only to deter shoppers and strangle our small independent shops.

Wiltshire Council has been consulting on charging for parking in Chippenham and other Wiltshire towns on Bank Holidays and Sundays and increasing season ticket prices by up to 115 per cent, which will have a serious impact on the high street.

It is frustrating that this is a council issue and not one I have direct control of but I am fighting the changes and I do have some concerns over how the consultation was promoted. I appreciate the need to pay for rural bus routes but I do not believe that damaging our high streets is the best way of achieving this.

On another topic, I am delighted that the Government has recently announced that it will reduce the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 which will help to protect the most vulnerable in society. Gambling addictions can devastate families and I followed up this announcement with a question to the Minister about what more we can do to address the dramatic increase in gambling advertising online and on TV, which seeks to target the most young and most vulnerable.

These columns are too short to fit in all my work but I would like to highlight a speech I gave pushing for more action against the persecution of Christians overseas and the work of Chippenham-based Sat7 who I visited again the other week. They seek to promote the values of tolerance and respect in the Middle East as well as offering support to marginalised and persecuted Christians, with more information available on their website.

Since being elected I have conducted regular democracy workshops in local schools, speaking to local school children about the role of an MP and answering their questions on national and local issues and supporting the schools any way I can.

Recently I also had the pleasure of visiting Monkton Park Primary in Chippenham to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary and talking to them about their exciting plans for converting a disused building on site into the community centre for children and local residents. The centre will be a great asset for the local community and charity funding has been applied for in order to complete the renovations which I will be supporting in full.

With a rise in demand for surgery appointments recently, I have increased the number of supermarket and village open surgeries I am conducting so please do call me on 01249 704465 or email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk to find out the next one in your area.