PARLIAMENT returned this week after the summer recess. Although there are only two weeks to go until party conference season, they will be important weeks in the House, with major national issues on the agenda and much to be discussed and decided upon.

However, south Wiltshire’s infrastructure – both those projects that are well on the way to delivery and those that are still distant aspirations – are never far from my thoughts and regularly dominate my postbag.

Even as I resume a full schedule in London, I am looking forward to an upcoming announcement that will have a huge impact on the constituency – revealing Highways England’s preferred solution for the A303 at Stonehenge, after many months of consultation. I am keenly aware that the A303 is far from the only traffic issue in the constituency and I regularly hear from people who are disturbed by the potential cost of the scheme, each of whom would prefer to see the sum invested in a different way – new roads, buses, resurfacing work, roundabouts, cycle lanes… the list goes on.

I have always said that I will not rest from seeking the necessary improvements to Salisbury’s transport infrastructure and I correspond regularly with Highways on a whole range of issues, arranging site visits and lobbying for action. However, the A303 improvements that are under consideration are not just about Salisbury but are part of a much larger national infrastructure project.

The A303 is a part of the National Strategic Network – roads deemed to be of national importance – and the Stonehenge section is itself just a small element of a plan to dual the entire length of the A303, worth billions to the south-west economy as a whole.

This is not a pot of money that can be spent on other immediate local priorities. It is not even part of the normal transport budget but is extra money from central government and if it is not spent at Stonehenge it will be spent on other parts of the strategic network elsewhere in the country.

People in Shrewton and Winterbourne Stoke, in particular, campaigned long and hard for a solution to the A303 traffic congestion that blights their communities and would certainly rather see Wiltshire get the benefit than see it go elsewhere.

Reducing congestion wherever it is a problem remains a key priority and the fact that we may be (finally) on the brink of making real progress in the north of the constituency will not lessen my commitment to continually improving the rest of our infrastructure whenever opportunities come along.