ONE of the latest victims of the notorious bus lane at Penzance Drive is an Australian visitor called Helen Haywood.

Entirely understandably, she says she will never return to Swindon. She will take her money elsewhere instead.

I dare say she isn’t the first out-of-towner to make such a decision.

The council says the signage relating to the bus lane is entirely within regulations.

That is no doubt true, but it is also entirely irrelevant.

Over the last three years more than 50,000 motorists have been fined for straying on to the bus lane. That means the signs are inadequate. It also means the bus lane, which is supposed to be there to make the passage of public transport easier, is by no means as efficient as it might be.

Quite why the council is apparently to reluctant to do anything meaningful to address this issue is a mystery.

It can’t be the huge sum of money the thing is generating. After all, that sum must be far outweighed by the potential loss to the town in business revenue and reputational damage, and the council would never put its own interests ahead of the community it serves.

How to take the law into our own hands

I THINK I’ve come up with an ethical alternative to tarring and feathering and other forms of vigilantism.

That’s an unusual thing to be thinking about, I admit, but over the last few weeks I’ve heard or overheard more and more people talking about doing bad things to criminals.

This has been especially true since a group of thugs pushed a trolley on to a main road and into the path of a group of motorcyclists, nearly killing one of them.

Any form of vigilantism is, of course, wrong because it takes us back to the horrors of a less civilised past.

It is wrong, even if we believe the forces of justice, law and order have more or less forsaken us because the police are hopelessly overwhelmed thanks to cuts.

It is wrong even if our neighbourhoods are under siege from sociopathic vermin and their equally sociopathic spawn.

It is wrong even if we are scared to dial 999 to report anti-social behaviour for fear of being scolded because we didn’t use the non-emergency line.

It is wrong even if we use the non-emergency line instead and give up in despair after waiting for 20 minutes or 25 minutes or half an hour because nobody is available to answer the phone.

It is wrong even if we can bring ourselves to wait, however long it takes, for somebody to answer the phone, only to be told there is nothing anyone can do because resources have to be prioritised.

Unfortunately, civilised people driven to desperation sometimes do things they would otherwise never countenance.

If anybody reading this is considering such conduct I hope they’ll find the strength to resist the temptation.

If they are unable to resist, however, I think I have a suggestion which will satisfy their urge to obtain justice without causing any physical harm.

My idea also has the advantage of putting criminals to good use while reminding society at large of who is really responsible for the behaviour of specimens such as the ones who targeted the motorcyclists last week.

After all, when a monkey flings a handful of something unpleasant at us, it’s the monkey that’s at fault, not the stuff the monkey flings.

Anybody who is truly unable to resist the urge to become a vigilante should not arm themselves with burning torches, pitchforks or any other kind of offensive weapon.

Instead, they should go to their nearest party and fancy dress supplies store and purchase some large coloured rosettes and some judges’ and barristers’ outfits. You know the sort of thing – a wig and a gown.

Each time they capture a criminal, they should say: “Don’t worry, we’re not going to hurt you and we won’t hurt you so long as you promise to dress up as a politician, a judge or a criminal defence barrister every time you set foot outside your home.”

Society at large would then be reminded that whenever a dangerous anti-social crime is committed, the real fault lies with those who are paid huge sums of money to leave us at the mercy of people who would cheerfully kill us.

From the mouths of crooks

AN insurance company has taken the unusual step of enlisting ex-cons to help it advise us on how to protect ourselves from being burgled.

The tips passed on by Co-op Insurance include installing CCTV cameras, having a decent car alarm, having a dog if possible and making sure not to post holiday pictures online while still on holiday.

This is all very good advice indeed, but I can’t help wishing the company had asked the former crooks one or two other questions as well.

“How many house burglaries have you managed to commit while locked in a cell?” for example.

And: “If you knew you faced a year’s nick for a first offence, five for a second, 10 for a third and 20 for anything beyond that, would you have gravitated toward another career path?”