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Council in denial

Coun Vera Tomlinson is cited as having criticised the state of the town centre and for her ‘grievous sin’ is to be removed from a very important committee, one incidentally which she has served with a high degree of integrity and application (SA July 25).

Having spoken to a number of local politicians it seems that Coun Tomlinson’s ‘offence’ is reiterating something of which the council is fully aware and of which they have been told is putting off businesses from investing in the town.

Having visited the Central Library to view the council’s vision for the future (a typically myopic view, it has to be said) I took time to read the very interesting booklet prepared by a team of town planning consultants et al presumably paid for by the taxpayers of the town.

These highly paid and unbiased advisers write under the strapline: “An improving commercial context – seizing the moment “Swindon is in a highly competitive position, but its major business occupiers are unhappy with the town centre environment.”

Dare I be so bold as to suggest this is exactly what Coun Tomlinson was referring to?

And, indeed, this is exactly what the many long-suffering residents of Swindon have been complaining about for far too many years.

And yet Coun Renard and his blinkered placemen ignore the evidence and castigate the myriad raised voices as being whingers, naysayers and doubters.

If existing ‘major business occupiers’ are unhappy, can you imagine what potential business occupiers must think?

Coun Renard talks glibly about the town’s image and yet ignores the evidence presented to him.

The town centre offers nothing to attract shoppers and a new £22.5m museum and art gallery will not be the catalyst for regeneration.

In the same way a new car park in Kimmerfields has done nothing to persuade any private investors to build either new offices or any luxury apartments.

Fancy fountains and ornate but dull as ditchwater paving are no substitute for a vibrant retail shopping experience which is just not available in the town centre.

On the other hand, one only has to look on the northern side of the railway line and the Outlet Shopping Centre to see how new homes follow new retail and commercial development.

It is recognised that there are five key stages in change management, the first of which is denial.

Swindon Borough Council is at this stage – yes even now they are still only at the first stage, a stage at which they don’t want to make any change to their situation and don’t recognise that they have a problem.

They may be pessimistic about their ability to make change, or even deny the negative effects of their existing situation.

They selectively filter information that helps confirm their decision not to do something.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reach or help people in the denial stage.

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Not all racists are white

WE COMMEND the British for their treatment of the recent news that the members of a gang were sent to prison for grooming girls for sex.

So far as we know, no media outlet mentioned the perpetrators’ religion.

A criminal is a criminal and he does not have a religion though he might like to place a label upon his chest.

The criminal’s religion did not teach him to act in this manner. We urge the communities to which these men belong to take a long hard look at their attitude towards women.

There are many countries in the world where women are held in low esteem and where they are denied their basic human rights.

All of us must stand up and speak up against such behaviour. When people from these communities came to the UK, they brought their misogynist and racist views with them.

We urge friends in these communities not to bury their heads in the sand and deny facts that are obvious to everyone else. Such behaviour does no credit at all to these communities.

We urge the Government not to shy away from speaking the truth and saying that these were racist crimes.

Had the situation been reversed and a gang of white youths had groomed girls of some other race for sex members of these communities would be up in arms.

Racism is not just white people mistreating members of other communities. For members of these communities to hold young white vulnerable girls in low esteem and misuse their vulnerabilities is also racist behaviour.

SHAHID AZIZ M.SC., GCILEX President Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore (UK)

Back to pre-EU days

MUCH fuss is being made of the procedure for leaving the European Union. To my mind the benchmark should be to return the situation to what it was when we joined.

There can be no question of the European Court of Justice having any jurisdiction over our courts: They didn’t previously and there seems no good reason for it having any now.

We shall be a sovereign state as we were previously and there has never been any suggestion that the EU should play any part in our justice system – I cannot see it attempting to force its authority on other sovereign states, eg, Russia, China or the United States and once we are out the international relationships should return to what they were.

GEOFFREY RICHARDS, Hilperton, Trowbridge

Blame the litter louts

THE letter from L Townsend is a wee bit wide of the mark. It is not SBC who is responsible for the litter, it is the morons who drop the litter.

But it is always easiest to blame SBC for everything, then the morons don’t have to accept responsibility.

DAVE DURIE, Fernham Road, Swindon