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A place for everyone

With each passing year, prices rise at various rates, property values increase and wages and salaries do at some stage attempt to catch up. We all know this as inflation.

A short article in the E.A. (August 10th) got me thinking about inflation, but in this case inflation in local authority job titles. This was a story about one or two serving officers at Trowbridge being promoted. Jane Scott was handing out the baubles, but now apparently not just any old Jane Scott, now known as Baroness Scott of Bybrook… much grander than plain Jane. Alistair Cunningham became Corporate Director for Growth, Investment and ‘Place’. I’m assuming the ‘Place’ is Wiltshire? or could the ‘Place’ be Trowbridge? And at £150,000 a year the growth bit could certainly refer to his salary? It is considerably more than our senior officers take home in their Swindon wage envelope; but then again could that be because Wiltshire is a little bigger ‘Place?’

I then thought I’d look a bit closer to home and see if this inflation is contagious. Opening the Borough Council website and clicking on the members page, I immediately noticed that Councillor Gary Sumner is Chair of Children’s Health and Social Care and Education Overview and Scrutiny Committee; phew, quite a mouthful for the old business card. And then there’s our favourite Councillor Dale Heenan. He is now Chair of Communities and ‘Place’ (that name again), and Overview and Scrutiny Committee; is his ‘Place’, Nythe or Dorcan or perhaps his ‘Place’ is Euclid Street? Who knows?

Not to be outdone Councillor Claire Ellis is Chair of Adult Health and Adult Care and Housing and Overview and Scrutiny Committee. And even our beloved officers are also not to be left out. When I was a member of the Borough Council, Stephen Edwards was quite simply the Borough Solicitor. He was a good man and as I recall no one had any problems remembering his job title or what he was responsible for. However today Stephen Taylor has inflated to Director of Law and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer. No ‘Place’ for him sadly.

Could there be a simple explanation for all this? Could it be remotely possible that unless everything people are responsible for these days is written down in their job title, that they may be in serious danger of forgetting some part of their responsibilities? Never one to just criticize, I do have a solution - we had them back in the day, it was called a job description. You have a straightforward job title and list the responsibilities in the job description. Problem solved.

JOHN STOOKE, Haydon End, Swindon

Even more delays

This week on Swindon 105.5 Kathy Ratcliffe and myself spoke with Gavin and Sophie from ‘Switch on to Swindon’ and what a joy it was to hear two people extolling the positive side of what our wonderful town has to offer and not attempting to dismiss the concerns of others as irrelevant.

The role of Switch on to Swindon ambassadors is very important and with Sophie’s passion and Gavin’s clear sightedness I am sure positive results will ensue. However, I am a little concerned that Forward Swindon’s role in the life of the borough appears to have changed with very little fanfare from that of a facilitator to that of a developer. I wonder if anyone has noticed that it is Forward Swindon which has been charged with regenerating the carriage works in Sheppard Street, or that it appears to be Forward Swindon in the fore with regard to what is happening (or more likely not happening) at Kimmerfields.

Probably the most noticeable change over the years has been the fact that Kimmerfields is the third incarnation of the same project as many of your readers will recall it was The Exchange, followed by Union Square and latterly Kimmerfields.

Coun Garry Perkins offers the view that obtaining some privately owned parcels of land has delayed the project by two years, which sounds plausible until you realise that while we await the building of a new bus station (which will be developed with council tax payers money) to join a £15m car park, some residential flats and a late arriving health centre (all built with public funds) not a single brick has been laid by any private developers. No shiny new shops, offices or luxury apartments despite Forward Swindon describing Kimmerfields “as a high priority project as it will create investor confidence without major investment.”

Muse Development, the company which signed the deal to develop the site back in 2008, have appeared unable to attract tenants willing to commit to as yet unbuilt property – which given the pronouncement of a former council leader that ‘we will build and they will come’ should be no surprise. After all, who wants to wait two years before they can occupy an office or retail shop?

The question on every observer’s lips is this – “how long will it be before we are told Muse has pulled out of the project and the council is seeking another partner?” I won’t hold my breath!

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

The speed cops

Re: my and other elderly folks ongoing concerns when trying to cross from the bus-stop opposite Whilestone Way.

Today, I got off the bus, hoping that some kindly speeding motorist might take a precious second or two off their busy lives to slow down to 30 mph (the alleged limit ) and allow a pedestrian to cross where the council steadfastly refuses a safe crossing. I managed to get to the middle of the road safely but then almost got done by... a police car.

Aren’t our police just wonderful?

RODNEY JM WIRDNAM, Whilestone Way, Swindon

Pick up a picnic

Now that the summer holidays are here, parents (and grandparents) everywhere are hunting out activities to keep the children occupied – me included!

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity has launched a fun, simple, summer activity called the Summertime Picnic. The idea is straightforward - host a picnic and ask friends and family to make a donation to Rainbow Trust. It can be a picnic in the garden, the park or even inside on a carpet, weather depending.

The Summertime Picnic is about enjoying quality time with your family and Rainbow Trust understands just how precious time can be as we support families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. We match families with a Family Support Worker who provides emotional and practical support amid the chaos of medicines, hospitals and endless appointments.

Rainbow Trust has a free online ‘Picnic Pack’ as well as ideas, recipes and games for a wonderful afternoon with friends and families. Just visit to start planning yours.

Thank you for your support.

EMMA HAINES, Rainbow Trust Director of Marketing and Fundraising

Put into context

The article which featured on Saturday in several national media outlets on the increase in the numbers of type 2 diabetes cases amongst children needs some context.

The figures from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health show that there are 258 children under the age of 14 who are confirmed as having type 2 diabetes.

However, it should be pointed out that there are more than 11 million under 14-year-olds in the UK.

Type 2 diabetes is a very serious condition, but the number of children who have this condition is absolutely tiny.

BROOK WHELAN, Chief Executive, People against Sugar Tax

There is a housing crisis

In reply to Steve Halden (Aug 17), the £24 billion a year paid out to rich landlords in housing benefit is nothing less than highway robbery.

Premier League footballers are now some of the highest paid people in the world with top earners getting nearly half a million pounds a week.

These rich footballers then invest much of those fabulous wages into houses and rent them out to the working class at sky high rents.

Across Britain there is a shortage of two million affordable homes. This shortage means the young generation cannot afford to rent or buy.

An average two bedroomed flat in Swindon costs £695 a month. This is a rise of 26 per cent during the last six years.

The number of houses in multiple occupancy are estimated at 977 in Swindon. This is further evidence that Swindon has a housing crisis.

There is a permanent spiral of rising rents and house prices and this is one of the unintended consequences of paying out £24 billion a year in housing benefit to wealthy landlords.

TERRY HAYWARD, Burnham Road, Swindon

Good Samaritans

I WOULD like to say a very big thank you to all the kind people, police and nurse who helped my husband when he fell over in Kingfisher Drive on the 3rd of August and waited with him until the ambulance arrived. Thank you all once again.

MRS S BOYDELL, Fitzmaurice Close, Covingham