Swindon Borough Council Leader David Renard's monthly column
'Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’ were two popular sayings which sprang to mind recently when considering the future of Swindon’s Honda plant.
As Swindon Link readers will be all too aware, Honda of the UK Manufacturing will stop production at its South Marston plant in July and what takes its place is high on my list of priorities.
So when I read in the media that American electric car giant Tesla was looking into the possibility of setting up a production plant in the UK, it made perfect sense to write to one of the richest people on the planet to see if we could turn his gaze to Swindon and the soon-to-be-vacant Honda site.
Now Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, may spend a lot of a time looking at the stars owing to the SpaceX arm of his business ventures, but I’m hoping he will see the opportunities in Swindon are indeed out of this world.
In my letter I was keen to stress a number of Swindon’s strengths including our superb location on the M4 corridor, a short distance from major airports and ports, and the outstanding Honda site itself has its own rail link and excellent access.
But arguably our biggest draw is our people. We work hard here in Swindon. In fact we have the third highest GDP per worker rate in the UK and I know in the Honda workforce and associated supply chain we have 5,000 highly-skilled employees.
I’ll let you know if I get a reply, but they say if you shoot for the moon and miss, you will still be among the stars.
I cannot finish this column without paying tribute to our amazing colleagues at Great Western Hospital who have been working incredibly hard saving lives from the latest wave of covid-19.
You will see elsewhere in the magazine that we are continuing our ‘Let’s do it for our GWH’ campaign which urges everyone across the borough to play their part in keeping themselves safe from the virus so we do not see the large community spread which has such a major impact on the hospital.
At the time of writing, our case rate in Swindon is beginning to fall back down, but the weeks ahead are going to be crucial for our local health services and we must keep following the Hands, Face, Space rules to the letter to stop the virus in its tracks.
I was delighted to see the start of the covid-19 vaccine rollout at the start of the new year and that gives us great hope for the future. Keep doing it for yourself, your loved ones and GWH.