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Remove the blinkers

I DO admire the sheer sense of optimism generated by Jenny Groves Chairman of Switch on to Swindon, although I suspect the acronym for the organisation speaks volumes – yes it’s SOS.

Jenny always sees a bright spot through the intensifying gloom and yet I wonder if it’s more to do with ‘rose coloured spectacle’ than a factual appreciation of the real situation. In her latest column (SA 12 Sept) she says without a hint of irony “Be under no illusion... Swindon is thriving”.

Her use of the word ‘illusion’ is as misplaced as the term ‘thriving’ – most Swindonians are not deceived by fancy pictures and words but understand the reality of the situation; which is that there is no ‘regeneration programme’ to speak of.

Rather, there has been a council tax-funded demolition programme which has resulted in the creation of ‘open spaces’ most of which are enclosed by hoardings and all of which have been extolled as superb ‘investment opportunities’.

Strangely, no one seems to be that keen on doing any investing, certainly no-one is rushing to dig foundations, build offices and apartments or develop new retail units.

Jenny’s supposed evidence approach to support her deluded ‘Swindon is thriving’ consists of new ambassadors for SOS, a refurbished hotel holding a sales promotion and an office letting company showing off its newly renovated as yet unoccupied office block (the old Tri Centre 3 building) – wow, that is simply stunning!

Now of course I’m being ironic, because of course I don’t really think that any of the three points offered up as signs that Swindon is thriving represents anything of the sort.

What distresses me is that Jenny is seriously putting forward the proposition that these examples are “a great indicator of a growing local economy.”

Jenny needs to take a walk along Bridge Street, Fleet Street, Commercial Road and Regent Street and while smelling the coffee just look at the number of empty shops, consider the state of the paved areas, take note of the litter and generally absorb the less than welcoming atmosphere of the area.

This is a point which many businesses have commented on and which the council refers to in its own report when it states “major business occupiers are unhappy with the town centre environment”.

Switch on to Swindon is right to champion the town but it does need to remove the blinkers.

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Sick and tired of LGBT

Seeing the furore over the handing out of Rainbow Epaulettes to Wiltshire Police, I wonder why we pay a police precept on our council tax!

Most of the community I imagine are heterosexual and it is us who the police need to consider. Most of us who are heterosexual wonder where we stand in all of this!

I fully agree with Gary Harding who wrote recently saying that “the heterosexual community are seen a second class citizens”. Absolutely ‘spot on’!

We don’t take to the streets to get our message across, we don’t make a song and dance about our sexual status. Why do we need people to recognise that there are people of LGBT origin and need to be recognised as such?

We don’t look for loads of publicity about needing ‘Same Sex Marriage’, we don’t want ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ to evolve so that there are ‘Same Sex Partners’, which is what some are looking for.

They even want to spoil our television for us!

Celebrities are forever stating that facts about their gay status means that they have a same sex husband etc, to the point where I am personally sick and tired of it.

I do not object to people’s sexual preferences etc, as some of my friends are gay, but I do not think it needs the amount of publicity that these people resort to. Just keep your personal life private, as I do as a heterosexual being and a happily married one at that!

I could go on and on but all I need to say is, “Please give it a rest” because I am starting to resent the whole context of LGBT!

I know that opinions will differ and the LGBT people will feel the need to, again, voice their opinion, but my point is made in the context of ‘My Opinion’ only!

CHRIS GLEED, Proud Close, Purton

Swindon Council must do better

Thank you for your story titled Council pull plug on Town Centre.

I think Swindon people should pull the plug on the council for the waste of funds year after year. The bus station is something that should not be around in 2017, it is not the place people would want to wait or pass through let alone late after work. As the the toilets, what can be said? Bath and Bristol don’t have a bus station like this.

As for the town centre, what a hellhole. Can people look forward to a day out?

My heart goes out to all the people who pay very high rates and try to keep their shops going. How can they keep this up with nothing but empty promises from the council year after year?

Swindon is a very big place yet roads, bus station and the town centre never change. Maybe the council should be told to explain where all the money has gone.

Why have we got so many homeless people sleeping cold and hungry? No one should have to do this. The old health centre is empty. They could have a bed and be warm.

We have too many empty offices in the town. Why can’t the council buy or rent these? They would make good homes. No one should be homeless in 2017.

What happened to the money from all the council houses that were sold or the hospital land that was sold or the Brunel Centre? Its fine all the new houses being built but there are no new council homes for the people who need them.

There has been a council house that has been all done and refitted, with three bedrooms, in Northern Road. It has been empty for nearly a year. This would make a happy home for a family, so why is it left empty?

All the people in Northern Road call it the show home because no one moves in. I don’t think I am the only person to feel what a bad state the town centre has been left in for many years now and there is no reason for this or for there being no homes for people.

Maybe the council would like to sleep out in the cold.

It is more than time for the people of Swindon to know why and what this council is being paid a great deal of money and what has happened to all the funds while year after year Swindon goes down the plug.

C DAVIS, Haydon Wick, Swindon

Fed up of vicars on TV

AM I the only person that’s sick to death of seeing vicars on TV?

It seems that every programme that I’ve previously enjoyed watching now has a grinning vicar on it complete with dog collar and references to ‘The Boss ‘ and loaves and fishes etc.

If they wanted to be TV stars why didn’t they become actors? My thought for the day? Go back to your parishes and do your job and leave the REAL celebrities to do theirs.


Prosperity is in decline

Bill Williams’ US namesake once said “It’s the economy stupid”.

Bill recently listed things he didn’t vote for. That’s unsurprising as most probably he will have voted for clowns, who did nothing at all to improve our deal – rather joked around whilst annually trousering £150,000.

He will have voted for a strong economy, jobs and the ability to provide decent health care, yet there is no commentator anywhere who believes the UK will be more prosperous after turning our back on our European friends.

Today the EU does not prevent us trading with any other countries and such suggestion is just a huge lie.

Germany, the world’s biggest exporter, never complain the EU hampers their ability to sell worldwide!

FACTS: in 2016 our exports to countries where we naively believe doors will be thrown open were, Brazil £1.9 billion, India £3.5 billion, Australia £4.2 billion, China £14.1 billion, USA £48.3 billion … and the EU a whopping £156 BILLION!

On the day that Toyota tell Theresa they may reconsider their Burnaston investment and Mitsubishi Bank seemed bound for pastures in Amsterdam, and sad Boris reprises his fantasy world, isn’t it time for a reality check?

Brexiteers who think that Germany is frightened of WTO import tariffs might listen to Matthew Wissman, German Auto Industry Association Head who said this week “Britain is important to us but the 27 countries of the EU are much more important”.

Bill and other correspondents preach the politics of the “disunion” over and over but refuse to acknowledge that ESM membership is crucial to our prosperity… a prosperity already in alarming decline.

JOHN STOOKE, Haydon End, Swindon