On Wednesday morning, James Gray attended and took part in a self-defence class organised by the friends of Ellie Gould to highlight the benefits of these classes in schools. This is part of a wider effort to push for self-defence classes to be a mandatory part of physical education, so that young people can learn how to protect themselves. The group believe that instead of playing netball or football, pupils could partake in one or two basic self-defence classes a year, therefore developing their skills without taking up hours of lesson time.

A petition set up by Ellie’s friends, and supported by James, calling for self-defence classes in schools, has now been signed by more than 12,000 people.

Mr Gray said that:

“Just a basic understanding and knowledge of self-defence techniques could well be a life-saver. If Ellie Gould had had some of this training- about how to react to an aggressor, and potentially how to see him off for long enough to run away, she might still be here today.

I have already been in correspondence with Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, to see if we can get self-defence tuition as a normal part of the curriculum. And now, in response to Ellie Welling, Harriet Adams and Tilda Offen, I am going to seek to call a special debate on the matter as soon as Parliamentary time permits.”

James Gray MP has welcomed the Government’s confirmation that Wiltshire will see its budget increased by 7% this year, as part of the Conservatives’ commitment to level up local services across the country.

Local authorities across the country will receive a share of £49.2 billion local government funding this year – a 4.4 per cent real terms increase and the largest year-on-year real terms increase in a decade. Funding for key public services in will be protected, with significant extra resources dedicated to areas where they are needed most. Thanks to the investment being made by the Conservatives, including Wiltshire will have an extra £25.2 million to spend this year.

Thanks to measures taken by the Conservatives, local authorities will be able to prevent excessive Council Tax rises – striking the right balance between the interests of council taxpayers and addressing pressures on services.

Mr Gray said that:

“Local authorities play a vital role in our communities, providing the crucial local services that people rely on every day. I work closely with Wiltshire Council and greatly appreciate the help and support they provide to my constituents on a daily basis.

“I am therefore extremely pleased to see that the Council was awarded an extra £25.2 million to spend this year funding this year; this is a truly significant increase and can make a great difference to our community. I am hopeful that this investment will help our local leaders make positive change in the area and meet the challenges North Wiltshire faces.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has criticised the decision of Lloyds Banking Group to close two of their branches in Malmesbury and Calne. The Lloyds branches in Calne and Malmesbury will be closing on 13 and 29 July respectively.

James has contacted Lawrence Finkle, Group Public Affairs Manage at Lloyds Banking Group to highlight his opposition to the closures, and stress the need for a long term solution to this problem. Lloyds will be operating a mobile branch at both locations, and the nearest local Post Offices will also provide banking services. However, Mr Gray was keen to ensure that these solutions were permanent and that his constituents still had access to the services they need over the next few years.

Mr Gray stated that:

“If you were to view the decision from a purely commercial stand-point, I can understand that you need to ensure that Lloyds Bank are constantly reviewing their network and making the most cost-effective decisions for their business. The rise of internet banking has indeed meant that fewer people visit their bank branches.

However, I was extremely disappointed by their decision because so many people, especially in a rural constituency like North Wiltshire, do continue to rely on their local branches. I have already been contacted by a number of constituents about this issue, all of whom, are very concerned about the decision. Therefore, we need to ensure that a viable solution is in place.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has congratulated Alicia Hempleman Adams, who lives in Box in his constituency, for breaking the hot air balloon world record. She achieved the record last week when she flew more than 15,000 feet in the air.

Alicia endured temperatures as low as –30C as she broke the women’s world record for altitude in a small hot air balloon. She flew an AX4 hot air balloon for an hour and 46 minutes at Calgary in Alberta, Canada to achieve the new record. The record was previously held by Irishwoman Pauline Baker, who set the previous record of 14016ft in January 2008.

Mr Gray said that:

“This is a fantastic achievement and Alicia should be extremely proud of the hard work and effort she has put into achieving this goal. It is not easy to beat world records, and this challenge was particularly dangerous, so it is certainly something to celebrate.

I am sure she will continue to work hard and will follow in the footsteps of her renowned explorer father, Sir David Hempleman-Adams. I look forward to seeing what Alicia can achieve next.”

On Saturday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray attended an Open Afternoon at Colerne Village Hall to celebrate Village Halls Week 2020.

At the event, people from across the village came together to acknowledge the Hall’s accomplishments, and the regular user groups were able to present and explain the work and activities that they do.

The campaign is an annual and national celebration of rural community spaces and the people whose time and dedication keep them going. Organised by the ACRE Network, and supported by DEFRA, the campaign runs in January and sees a huge variety of events happening across England.

After the event Mr Gray said that:

“I was extremely pleased to have attended this event to learn more the Hall’s achievements and activities over the years. Village halls are the heart of rural communities, they bring people together; they provide a meeting space essential for tackling loneliness and can provide vital services that communities might otherwise lose.

I greatly appreciate the work that the dedicated volunteers do to keep the community halls running and ensuring that people in our villages still have places to meet. Colerne village hall is a wonderful example of this, and I was so glad to have been able to be part of this event.”