PILES of rubbish lining the sides of a Swindon car park were in the spotlight after horrifying a visitor.
Andy Slade, who lives elsewhere in Wiltshire but visits the town on business, spoke out about the grisly state of the site near Fleming Way, which is close to some of our better hotels.
As Andy correctly pointed out, such vistas don’t exactly do wonders for our reputation.
The council, to its credit, promised it would send the StreetSmart team to gather the garbage. Unfortunately, that won’t prevent litterers from starting new drifts of the stuff.
As far as I can tell, there are three possible solutions to the problem in the car park.
One is for us to embrace the litter and claim it’s some form of collective artistic statement, an ongoing narrative commentary on modern life, politics and stuff like that.
We could apply for a grant from any one of a number of arts bodies based in London and use the cash to make lots of little plaques such as you see in galleries.
They’d say things like: “This empty supermarket trolley clearly symbolises the stark emptiness of mass commercialism. It’s wonky front wheel alludes subtly to the futility, on an existential level, of attempting to set a moral course amid the unforgiving waters of global capitalism.
“The lone discarded boot with no laces throws into sharp relief our sense of helplessness in the face of forces which overwhelm us. We wish to strike out against those forces but such is their monumental, non-sentient indifference that we are no better than the unfortunate in the sad fable of the one-legged person in the bottom-kicking competition.
“We would like nothing better than to fly, but our tragedy is that we, like that dead pigeon lying flat on its back next to the fence with its claws in the air, having choked on a discarded fag end, are distracted and ultimately destroyed by worthless objects.”
And so on.
This option, although admittedly attractive, is unworkable. For one thing, whoever applied for the grant would probably be unable to keep a straight face and, for another, the car park would still be strewn with rubbish.
Another solution would be for nearby businesses to install some decent CCTV cameras covering every square inch of the car park and deal with the issue themselves.
Obviously, tracking down and getting in touch with every litterer to take them to task would be prohibitively expensive. I suggest an alternative strategy, a form of prize draw.
Every 100th litterer, even if they only dropped a chewing gum wrapper, would win a prize. That prize would be every item of litter everywhere in the car park at the time. Their winnings would be dropped off in their garden, shoved through their letter box or maybe even hurled through a window.
Sadly, although this is an appealing idea for those who like natural justice, there are some pesky laws which would prevent it from becoming reality.
We are therefore left with only the third option, which has the advantages of being workable and not in any way silly.
It involves setting up extra cameras and patrols wherever there’s a major litter problem, identifying every perpetrator and inviting them to either pay a huge fine or end up with a criminal record.
We do that already, I know, but we’re clearly not doing it enough.
That’s that sorted then
THE saga of the mucky car park isn’t the only refuse-related story to emerge over the last few days.
A man in Toothill reversed his car out of his driveway and sounded his horn to alert a nearby bin lorry to his presence.
A collector duly took his wheelie bin and emptied it, only for another collector to reappear moments later, take his bin away and not return it.
The unusual chain of events was captured on CCTV.
Fortunately, an official explanation was soon forthcoming. It seems the first collector realised there was still some refuse left in the bin but was reluctant to empty it a second time because he was unhappy that the householder had sounded his horn.
Another collector then went back to do the job, only for the lorry to gobble up the bin and destroy it.
The explanation is most welcome, as it reassures us that what happened was solely the result of misfortune, misunderstanding and coincidence.
It clearly wasn’t an act of spite, and the council, I’m sure, would have replaced the bin without quibble even if there had been no CCTV footage.
Is this a sick joke?
A SWINDON court has handed down yet another sentence guaranteed to strike terror into the hearts of all evildoers.
It’s a terror of laughing themselves to death, admittedly, but what can one do?
The case involved a pair of drunken happy campers outside a town centre pub and a blameless family, including a baby, who were nearby.
The two drunks boasted a total of no less than 201 previous convictions.
Between them they threatened to kill the seven-month-old baby’s aunt, threw a can of cider at his father, threw an A-frame and a chair and threatened to put a Stanley knife in a boxing glove and use it to hurt them.
One of the drunks was found to have a Stanley knife, and racially abused a police officer.
And their sentences?
One will be free in seven months or fewer and the other in five or fewer.
The organisations valiantly attempting to make the centre of Swindon more attractive to visitors should raise hell about this travesty and every travesty like it.