YOU’LL have heard that Swindon Borough Council has severed its ties with Muse, the firm it signed up to deliver the Kimmerfields development.

If you remember, there were supposed to be shiny, busy new streets, shopping and leisure areas, a new bus station, offices, homes, and a brand new hotel.

It was to be a complete parcel of architectural, retail and leisure wonders, turning the centre of Swindon into a paradise of 21st century dynamism and optimism.

That was the promise made in 2011, at least. Six years on – only about a year less than it took to build the new World Trade Centre, incidentally – we have a car park, a health centre and some assisted living places. Whether there’ll be any progress now is up for debate, but I’ve been trying to think how the council might spare us further disappointment.

Its best bet, I reckon, would be change its approach to promises. Instead of promising the best, it should promise the worst.

Bear with me.

The next announcement should be along the lines of: “We are pleased to reveal our latest castle in the air, our latest shimmering vision of a bright future which will eventually collapse like a mouldering, rotten wooden shed under the weight of a moderate snowfall.

“We offer superb and very expensive computer-generated impressions of familiar streets transformed; where drab ordinariness has fled before our innovation and clear-eyed determination like wisps of mist when the sun rises on a summer’s day.

“Impossibly glamorous families lounge outside impossibly clean and futuristic cafes in those images; business people stride purposefully, mobile phone in hand, amid edifices of glass and gleaming metal, and beautiful, joyful lovers breathe perfumed air beneath stands of perfect trees.

“There is no litter, no grime, no unhappiness.

“Of course, what will happen in real life is that the streets in question will look much the same in five years or 10 years as they do now, although there might be a new building here and there. “We’ll keep promising that everything is on track, even though the track hasn’t even been built yet and never shall be, and when the whole thing goes for a ball of chalk - as it inevitably will - we’ll have a political row. Whoever is in opposition will accuse whoever runs the authority of being incompetent, and whoever runs the authority will accuse the opposition of running down the town.”

Speaking of running down the town, my suggested announcement might seem to be doing just that.

I intend anything but.

This town is a fine place with a fine history and more than enough local talent to deliver a fine future. Its people, the human beings whose labour feeds the infrastructure, deserve fine things and fine places.

Unfortunately, nobody in authority seems capable of delivering those things and places, but at least if they’re honest about that we won’t be so unhappy when it all goes wrong.

In fact, we might be more inclined to be happy when something is actually delivered, no matter how humble.

“What a superb bike rack!” we might exclaim. Or: “That new public bog is a marvel of engineering. It flushes and everything.”

Let’s give it a shake

A SWINDON nurse said the other day that some of her colleagues are obliged to use foodbanks in order to keep body and soul together.

I seem to recall another nurse complaining about her income during a TV debate a while ago, and being told in no uncertain terms that there is no magic money tree.

This is not strictly true. The tree in question does exist, but it’s kept in a special secret garden. Only certain people are allowed to borrow the key, enter the garden and give the tree a shake. Those with access include enormous corporations who don’t like the idea of paying taxes, politicians who fancy an inflation-busting pay rise, political parties who need to bribe other parties and all manner of oligarchs, dodgy tycoons and similar wrong ‘uns.

Not nurses, though.

Or the 415 children currently homeless in Swindon, for that matter.

Finance firm deserves plenty of credit

I MUST take a moment to give public praise to a certain credit card organisation for its open-mindedness.

I’m sure they’re too modest to court acclaim, so I won’t name them.

Let’s just say they’re best known for advertising rates from 39.9 percent to 69.9 per cent APR, depending on individual circumstances.

They recently set up a stall in the centre of Swindon to speak to potential customers. Maybe you saw them.

Organisations in the financial sector often get a bad press, with accusations that they want to offer their services only to financially comfortable or outright wealthy people.

However, I’m here to tell you from personal experience that this company has a refreshingly non-judgemental attitude.

On several occasions over the course of about a week, I walked past their stall during working hours, wearing my suit and tie, and the only attention I received from the cheery sales staff amounted to little more than brief eye contact.

However, on one occasion when I walked past, I was off work and therefore wearing only my ordinary and rather old clothes. I hadn’t shaved, either.

I’m one of those people who, unless they make an effort, appears to have put their clothes on with a shovel, so I must have looked a right old sight.

In fact, to the casual observer I must have looked as though I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.

However, that didn’t stop a salesperson from hailing me as soon as he saw me and asking some questions about my finances and credit rating.

The entire team and the organisation they represent should be commended for their refreshing lack of snobbery. Their presence was a delightful enhancement to my shopping experience.