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Snowdome problems

I READ with interest last week’s Swindon Advertiser front page headline which claims that a Swindon snowdome with £270m of investment is set for North Star.

But all may not be as it seems. It is true the council has managed to keep open a hope of the redevelopment of the North Star site with Seven Capital taking over from the failed Moirai developer.

However, it has come with significant council concessions to Seven Capital.

For instance, the possibility of residential properties on the lucrative North Star site is now a strong likelihood, in fact it’s a matter of how much, not if, housing will be on this site.

With the new way the development agreement has been drafted between the council and Seven Capital it has now become possible for the first time for Seven Capital to build residential properties on the North Star site without the council needing to give permission.

It is also possible that residential properties could be built on this site with no snowdome.

Given that this site has been handed over to Seven Capital for a fraction of its value by the council, the building of residential properties without the snowdome and other leisure provision would be a huge loss to the taxpayer.

For instance, if the council had decided from the outset to build residential properties on this site, this would have provided an income of many millions of pounds to the council.

Instead, it has now become possible that residential properties will be built and a private sector company will get the bulk of the profits.

The Conservative administration may well be taking the same approach as their party colleagues in Westminster have taken, giving away publicly owned assets to the private sector at a huge loss to the taxpayer.

Given recent 10 per cent council tax increases one wonders whether this will be one bitter pill too many for Swindon taxpayers to swallow.

COUN JIM GRANT, Swindon Labour Group Leader

Look after heritage first

I FEAR that Monday’s article under the headline “More than 1k people back bid for new museum” perpetuates the same myth presented by the relatively small group of well meaning supporters who are promoting an exciting new building in Swindon’s town centre to exhibit the town’s unseen art collections.

Did your reporter actually read the text on the postcards being distributed by the group? The signatories simply agree to back the bid for a new museum.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagreed with that simple statement. There may be many, however, who would disagree that a £22m investment in a new designer building in Swindon’s hapless town centre should be our priority, when we have heritage listed buildings, museum pieces in their own right, falling into ruin all round the town.

The Mechanic’s Institute stands derelict as ever, while the same council is blocking a Lottery bid for its restoration, because it also wants to bid to the same Lottery fund for this new-build museum.

In the same week you report the welcome success of the Richard Jeffries Museum in obtaining a £10,000 lottery grant, you also report that £1m, one hundred times that amount, is to be spent creating “80 hot-desking spaces” in the historic Carriage Works, with no clear plan for the remainder of the vast site.

How many would sign postcards supporting that, if asked?

Is it not time that people in Swindon were honestly consulted and really listened to, about a proper, holistic and fully costed plan for all of Swindon, including the restoration of its heritage buildings, the rescue of its increasingly deserted town centre, the provision of sufficient affordable homes and a coherent transport system?


Non voters swung it

IT’S NOW over a year and I still read letters from those who have not got over the EU referendum result.

Perhaps the Government should set up a counselling service for those poor souls that have yet to come to terms with the result.

I read the letter from Pat Norman (10/7) claiming to have done a lot of research into the EU referendum.

It went on to claim that there were a lot of negative claims made during the campaign and other vital issues like trade, industry, and other things etc were not mentioned.

Well that was the responsibility of the Remain group to raise it. Pat Norman then claimed that the referendum was only advisory.

Wrong, David Cameron on TV made it quite clear he would accept the decision of the electorate.

He also stated when asked, what majority must there be and he stated a majority of one would suffice.

Therefore, David Cameron’s Government laid down the rules the EU referendum would operate under.

Then Pat Norman claimed the result was too close and we should not go ahead with Brexit.

Unfortunately, this proposal is somewhat flawed. The reason is simple. Out of the 100 per cent of the electorate who could have voted only 34 per cent voted to remain, 66 per cent didn’t.

This 66 per cent was made up of 37 per cent who voted to leave and 29 per cent, a mere 9.7 million people who didn’t vote at all, who were happy to go along with the majority.

As Harold Wilson said in the first EU referendum, if you don’t vote you become the part of the majority.

Whether you like it or not the fact is only one in three voted to remain in the EU.

This is where Theresa May came unstuck when she thought she could fight a General Election in the belief that the majority of voters were for leaving. In truth she had only 37 per cent to rely on.

The contrast between referendums and General Elections is simple, referendums are usually yes/no or in/out but General Elections are about a multitude of issues.

ALLAN WOODHAM, Nythe, Swindon