It’s been an interesting week with the Government showcasing some of the things we are doing in the UK in the field of artificial intelligence (“AI”). Defence Procurement Minister James Cartlidge visited Yeovilton and was shown some of the systems that use it on our Leonardo AW159 “Wildcat” helicopters, which is great as we want him to be well aware of the advanced features and modern design of Leonardo’s AW149 which we are bidding into the Ministry of Defence’s new medium helicopter programme.
More advanced skills in AI and use of AI are something I’d like to bring to the Yeovil constituency and I’ll be talking to Yeovil College about this next week when we catch up to discuss the software engineering courses and ecosystem for learners and entrepreneurs that we’ve been working on. I am working on bringing an important safety oriented AI company to operate out of Yeovil and the more people and firms can benefit both from using AI safely and developing skills in it the better for our local earning potential.
I remain very focused on trying to encourage Somerset Council to use the £9.75 million of national government funding I got for regeneration of Yeovil in the right way. Glovers Walk and Bus Station transformation were central to the bid and in my view must be achieved in order to get Yeovil town centre going in the right direction. The Council’s request to use £5 million instead to bring a few town centre buildings into use as affordable housing would take the town in the opposite direction and leave a gaping hole at the centre of the strategy. I am dead against that and so should everyone with an ounce of common sense in the constituency be.
I am encouraging local entrepreneurs and developers to get in touch with Martin Group and or the Council to offer to participate in a truly transformative large scale scheme for Glovers Walk, as we need this doing now, with the full £5 million of national government funding used to ensure it happens. Some may have seen the article in this newspaper or its online version about Glovers Walk being up for sale. It has in fact been the case for some time that Martin Group have wanted partners to do it on the scale originally envisaged, so hopefully this being more public will bring forward a selection of options.
To end most seriously, I am deeply concerned that Somerset Council is today going to consider issuing a section 114 notice, which is essentially a notice of bankruptcy for a Council. The Lib Dem administration has failed to manage the Council financially, or at all. They failed to follow the unitary council integration plan that would have delivered huge savings, and have instead run up a deficit of £27 million this year with over £100 million projected next year.
The level of incompetence in this vital public body at the hands of the Lib Dems is staggering and shocking. I said before that SSDC was not fit for purpose and should be taken into special measures by the Government. This is now sadly a cancer the Lib Dems have spread to the wider scale, and special measures is something I now have to recommend for Somerset Council too.