The leadership contest is in full swing. With eleven candidates declared, and more to come, it’s starting to look like the Gold Cup start-line. I will be reviewing the various pitches carefully of course. But I can’t help the sneaking feeling that anyone who actually wants to be PM at a time like this probably ought to be disqualified!
Meanwhile, my principal focus will remain the work that brought me into politics in the first place: driving social mobility in Cheltenham. For decades, social injustice has persisted in our town – with some of the country’s poorest neighbourhoods existing cheek-by-jowl with more affluent ones. I believe passionately in radical steps to tackle it.
Generating opportunities is at the heart of my plan. If we can show a young person from generations of workless households that great opportunities exist here on their doorstep, the impact can be transformational – for individuals, communities and even public health.
That’s why I’m so committed to driving the cyber vision for Cheltenham which I launched back in 2014, and which has been backed with £23 million of Government cash. That is now acting as a catalyst for remarkable local investment and innovation.
Since the pilot Cyber Innovation Centre was established in 2015, local cyber security start-ups have generated an estimated value of over £75 million. Last week I was delighted to help launch Hub8 - a new 7,000 square foot co-working space partnered with Cynam that will be opening in the Brewery Quarter this summer, dedicated to the cyber community.
Hub8, a play on Hut 8, the hut which led wartime codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park, will bring together individual start-ups, independent SMEs and major cyber employers. It’s where Cheltenham ideas will move from start-up to scale-up, generating those precious opportunities for great jobs.
That’s fantastic news for social mobility here at home.
Any future PM must back Cyber Cheltenham if he or she wants my support.