I am absolutely thrilled that Swindon Borough Council’s Planning Committee granted planning permission for the revised Abbey Stadium, the home of the Swindon Robin’s Speedway team.

I have been involved in the campaign for a new stadium since the very real threat of closure in 2008, and whilst we all have grown increasingly frustrated at the delays, complications and false-starts, we have at least made sure the Abbey Stadium has remained in full use throughout. Rightly, the final phase of residential development was blocked until the new stadium was delivered.

The revised plans will see a modern new stadium delivered, on the existing site, and crucially with the new main stand flipping to the opposite side of the stadium, works can commence without the need to demolish the existing stand until the new one is ready. This avoids the need to delay until the stadium isn’t in use, or the challenge that works could overspill and cause a delay to a new season. This new stadium, with enhanced facilities will be a real boost for Alun Rossiter and his team, plus the supporters – a great and worthy news story in the year the Swindon Robins are champions.

Local residents will also benefit, both with aesthetically improved facilities, but also the additional landscaping and sound barriers on the site. As ever I will press for the works to begin as quickly as possible, and only when they are complete will the final phase of residential development be allowed to begin.

As a minister, this week I was able to visit Harry Specters, a fantastic Social Enterprise in Cambridge. It employs young adults with autism to create award-winning luxury chocolates and it recently opened a wonderful shop in the equivalent of the Brunel Shopping Centre. I was pleased to meet UnLtd, an organisation that supports social enterprises to grow and create opportunities for those with disabilities. Its work is crucial in helping close the disability employment gap, with over 1m more disabled people in work since 2013 alone. Locally, after my introduction, it is supporting Hjalande Hander Catering, a charity which gives young adults with special needs the chance of paid work in their wonderful mobile catering business, that is now often seen at local fetes and events. I was also encouraged to see that the owners of the shopping centre working with Harry Specters to not only fill an empty unit (which is a real challenge with the growth of online shopping), but supporting them to become established, creating the next generation of retailers – there are real lessons to be learnt here. It was great to see how much the young adults were enjoying their respective roles, and their sense of pride on being able to have the opportunity to work. They were very patient with me when I was given an opportunity to make my own chocolate!

The key aim, promoted through our Disability Confident campaign, is encouraging new, or existing businesses to have the confidence to offer jobs to those with disabilities or long-term health conditions. Often very small changes, either in recruitment, or training can allow business to benefit from individuals who have the skills, determination and enthusiasm to be a valued member of the team, which makes good business sense.