THE bid to demolish Swindon’s Tented Market has been forced through on the say-so of planning inspectors.

This is not good news for the few businesses clinging on there, who must now find new premises or go to the wall.

Nor is it good news for people who relish diversity in their shopping and like to support interesting small traders.

Whether it’s good news for the cafes and food outlets which will be invited to occupy the replacement building remains to be seen. After all, there are already dozens of cafes and food outlets within half a mile or so.

What interested me about the announcement were the comments of one of the inspectors who visited the market.

He said there were few customers and few businesses, making the place unattractive. Well there’s a surprise.

Could this be because lots of the businesses have fled, the market is hardly ever advertised and has been allowed to become down-at-heel by owners who want to replace it?

That inspector should change his name to Sherlock.

Changing the rules to serve politicians

IF you happen to be a pupil of just about any school in the borough of Swindon, I daresay you’re feeling a bit bewildered at the moment.

Don’t worry if you are, because plenty of teachers and staff must be feeling a bit bewildered, too.

After all, it’s not every day that Ofsted claims young people are being failed at every level by their schools.

How, you may be asking yourselves, has this happened without your noticing?

You would have noticed, surely, if the standard of teaching had sunk overnight like a brick in a bucket of custard. For that matter, you would have noticed if a similar bucket of custard had been brought into each classroom and traditional academic lessons had been replaced by custard finger painting on the walls.

After all, plenty of Swindon schools have been rated good or better by Ofsted for years, and students do well in things like GCSEs and A-levels.

In spite of that, if the latest pronouncement from Ofsted is to be believed, for all the good school does you, you might as well go down to the park every day and spend eight hours hitting a tree very hard with your forehead.

Fear not, for I have an explanation. You see, Ofsted operates on behalf of politicians, and politicians are rather odd ducks.

Among the oddest of all are the ones in charge of education. If you were in charge of education, you might assume that your sole responsibility was educating people. You know the sort of thing – making sure people leave school with the literacy, numeracy, technical and social skills they need to function in modern society and make the most of their potential.

You think that because you’re not a politician.

Their first priority, whichever Party they belong to, is to make themselves look good and politicians from other Parties look bad.

The jobs of everybody in the upper echelons of Ofsted depend on doing the bidding of those politicians. One of their favourite tricks is to randomly change the rules so that what was good is bad and what was bad is good.

So for years they say to schools: “Here is how you must do things. If you don’t do them that way, you are bad.”

Then they suddenly say: “The way you have been doing things is bad, even though we told you to do them and said you were good for doing them.

“What was good is now bad, and what was bad is now good – and here’s a whole new list of exam standards and rules for you to follow, even though we won’t tell you properly how to follow them.”

It’s a bit like, say, telling somebody one week that they should wear green hats, that green hats are great, that any hat other than a green one is an abomination, and then writing a surprise report about them which says green hats are evil and there’s a disgraceful failure to wear blue ones. There’s another advantage to all this nonsense for the politicians and those who serve them. It means all the blame for any problems the education system really does have can be shifted over to the teachers.

This is especially handy if those problems can mostly be traced to lousy pay and conditions for teachers, crumbling infrastructure and chronic, disgusting underfunding which dates back 30 years or more.

Let common sense prevail

Last week a poppy seller told us she was berated by a supermarket manager after removing a cardboard display of hand-warmers from the charity collectors’ agreed pitch.

In the same week, some householders in Swindon told us their bins hadn’t been emptied because they were so full that the lids were open by a few inches.

This was in spite of the changeover to the new collection schedule meaning there had been the odd build-up of extra waste.

When will employers learn that when somebody’s being interviewed for a job which involves contact with the public, they should vetted for their common sense?

If they did, the public would suffer less annoyance and the organisations would suffer a lot less negative publicity.

Of course, we’d be deprived of the occasional amusing news item, such as a grown adult being denied rum and raisin ice cream in a shop because they couldn’t provide ID, but that would be a small price to pay.