Last month, the Prime Minister announced a plan for us to begin to safely live with and manage COVID-19. In line with this plan, by the end of this month routine asymptomatic (lateral flow testing) and symptomatic testing (PCR testing) will no longer be available for free for the general population.
This will mean that local testing sites in Swindon and others across the country will no longer be available after 30 March 2022 and the sites will be demobilised shortly after. This includes:
• The Mobile Testing Unit at Civic Offices, Euclid Street
• The Local Test Site at Broad Green Community Centre
• The Regional Test Site at Wroughton Park and Ride
You will also no longer be able to order free asymptomatic test kits via the NHS website after 31 March, nor will you be able to collect free test kits from collection sites.
Testing will however still be made available for vulnerable groups, with further information to follow via the www.gov.uk
Over the next week, our teams will be out and about distributing test kits at various locations, so feel free to take a test kit if you see them. We’ll also be sharing their locations via our Facebook page.
The impact of COVID-19 on local schools
With COVID-19 cases in Swindon increasing, many schools in Swindon are seeing an increase in the number of staff testing positive for COVID.
For some schools, this may affect their day-to-day running, as staff absences may require a change back to remote learning, last-minute changes to planned trips or excursions, class closures and changes to the usual support some children may have in place. COVID-19 is also impacting how many children travel to school.
The health and safety of all pupils and staff is of paramount importance and some schools may require further enhanced measures, in line with national guidance. Please check your child’s school website, and emails from the school every evening in case it may affect you or your child.
Upcoming vaccine clinics
Over the next week, we will be holding local COVID-19 vaccine clinics, offering first, second and booster vaccine doses:
Thursday, 31 March from 10am to 6pm - The Moonrakers, Cricklade Road, Swindon, SN2 5AA
Visit our website
and take a look under ‘getting vaccinated’ for all our upcoming vaccine clinics. You can also find the dates of other local walk-in clinics on the NHS walk-in site finder. A second spring COVID-19 booster is now being offered to:
people aged 75 and over
those in care homes
those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system
This Easter, we’re once again helping to provide fun activities and healthy meals to thousands of eligible school-aged children at over twenty local holiday clubs across Swindon, through the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.
Over the Easter holidays (11-22 April), over 6,500 children across Swindon will be eligible for the HAF programme, which is funded by the Department for Education, and which will provide them with nutritional meals, engaging activities, the chance to socialise with other children and most importantly, the opportunity to have fun.
Parents of eligible children will be sent a link to sign up to the clubs via email or text. The deadline for booking on to a HAF provider is 6pm on Monday, 4 April 2022, so if your child is eligible, make sure to book your sessions as soon as possible.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll complete work on the Wichelstowe Southern Access Scheme, including our work on the new underpass built below the M4, as well as the new roundabout and road layout, south of the M4, connecting to Wharf Road.
The new underpass, which will eventually connect Wroughton and Wichelstowe via a new road called Wichel Way, was built to meet one of the planning conditions for the new 4,500-home Wichelstowe development, to support the site and help introduce the infrastructure needed for our ever expanding town.
While the new roundabout is now in use, Wichel Way, the new road connecting Wichelstowe and Wroughton, will remain closed to traffic until it is completed in Wichelstowe by the developers of the site.
In the video below, you can see the progress made through the project over the past few years, with the latest photos of the new underpass shown at the end.
We are working for Swindon
Residents are often surprised to learn that the costs of providing social care for adults and children across Swindon make up around 80 per cent of our annual budget. In 2022/23, that’s £124.3m.
Yet the majority of residents who don’t use these services themselves may have little understanding of what these social care services look like in practice and how they provide a lifeline to people in our community.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more information about the invaluable role social care plays in Swindon, including sharing real case studies of ways local people have been helped to live the lives they want to live.
For now, you can head to our website
to find out more about social care and what that looks like in Swindon.
New sports hub in Moredon
Exciting plans have been revealed for the new sports hub in Moredon, which will benefit not just the local community but cycling fans and competitors from far and wide.
The plans for the site, off Akers Way, were approved by the Council’s planning team this week and include:
• Full size floodlight 3G pitch, fully enclosed with metal fencing, suitable for multi-team training and senior and junior matches. • A 1km regional standard cycling closed road circuit with a number of internal loops and cross over points – allows for three separate groups to use the track at one time. • A learn-to-ride offer for younger riders. • Car park improvements allowing for 125 standard spaces, 11 near accessible spaces, two mini bus spaces and 56 overflow spaces. A coach drop-off will also be included. • Natural sports pitches including two football pitches and two cricket pitches. • New pavilion with enhanced changing areas, café and reception area.
The plans will now move to the detailed design phase and will take place before the scheme is put out to tender. Currently, construction is expected to begin on site by autumn 2022.
Health Hydro £6.5m facelift
Swindon’s Health Hydro could be about to get a £6.5m facelift if a funding bid to the Government is successful.
Swindon’s Towns Fund Board has just submitted a robust business case to obtain £5m to help deliver the first phase of a major refurbishment programme at the Milton Road facility.
The Council has already committed £1.5m to the project, which will include:
Restoration of the main pool
The restoration of the main entrance on Faringdon Road
Improving access to the pool and Turkish Baths
Creating purpose-built changing facilities
Creating additional gym space
Restoring the roof and upgrading the plant within the building to make it watertight and energy efficient
It is hoped that by completing the first phase, it will act as a catalyst for future funding bids to restore the remainder of the Health Hydro, including the small pool.
For more information on the projects and investment that are taking place in Swindon town centre over the next four years visit our website.
Changing Places fund successful!
The Government has just confirmed that our bid for £100,000 from the Changing Places Fund has been successful!
Councils were invited to apply to the Government for a share of £30m to install life-enhancing Changing Places toilets (CPTs) in public places and tourist attractions.
CPTs are larger accessible toilets for children, young people and adults who cannot use standard accessible toilets, and feature equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.
We will be using the funding to install CPTS at Lydiard Park and Coate Water, while the funding will also be used to provide similar facilities at Swindon Designer Outlet.
We have been working closely with local groups Mums on a Mission and Swindon SEND Families Voice to improve the facilities across the Borough to make them more accessible. This will allow a number of families to access local facilities, which they haven’t been able to access before.
Our plans to make Coate Water more accessible will include building a fully accessible play area over the next 12 months.
Councillor Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:
“We want to make our public places and attractions in Swindon as accessible as possible so they can be enjoyed by everyone and this funding will certainly help us achieve that goal.”
Saturday 26 March & Saturday 2 April
Jubilee craft sessions
Join us for free Jubilee Craft Session:
Saturday 26 March, 11:00-12:30 at Central Library
Saturday 2 April 2022, 11:00-12:30 at Park Library, Cavendish Square
Swindon Dementia Action Alliance, Artsite and the Wyvern Theatre have partnered to create a fantastic new project 'The Street Party' as a way for Swindon to come together to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
A range of different settings are running craft & reminiscence sessions where we will create materials in preparation of the upcoming Jubilee. These will then be pulled together by artists from Artsite in Swindon, and made into an exhibition and hopefully inspire a street party mural in Theatre Square (the mural is subject to a funding bid we have been shortlisted for).
As part of the Swindon Dementia Action Alliance, Swindon Libraries are running a session at Central and Park Library. Anyone is welcome to join in. Materials will be supplied and there's no need to book.
Friday 1 April, 12:30 - 13:30
David Murray John (DMJ) exhibition launch
Join us for the free launch of our new David Murray John (DMJ) exhibition, at Swindon Central Library, on Friday 1 April from 12:30 - 13:30. Including the unveiling of a Lego structure of the DMJ.
Learn about the tallest building in Swindon as local historian Angela Atkinson delivers a short presentation on the landmark, based on her book 'Swindon in 50 Buildings'.
Discover how DMJ model builder Neil Robinson imagined Swindon's iconic building using over 1800 Lego bricks.
Our Local Studies Librarian, Darryl Moody, will also be on hand to discuss the materials used from our extensive Swindon Collection. This is a free event and all are welcome.
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