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Get on with stadium

At last, a light at the end of the tunnel and someone with some gumption to be open and honest.

Terry Russell has spoken out and gone public and said this year will be the year for racing, both speedway and greyhound racing, making a solid committment for 2018.

Now we’re just waiting for the green light to get it done. Whoever’s finger is hovering over the green light button, press it (who is it by the way, just curious?). Press it, get it built, lift the spirits of the masses, let us see the new stadium at last.

John L Crook, Haydon Wick, Swindon

UKIP is not right-wing

IN reply to the letter by Martin Webb (Jan 27), may I remind him that UKIP is the most moderate party in Britain.

UKIP is not right-wing but is actually a populist party. Many of our most recent members have come from Labour who have been neglected as Labour no longer represent the working class.

Young people need a decent home to raise their families at a rent that is affordable to the working class. We should do all we can to help them make a good start in life.

I love Swindon and the people that live in Swindon. It is my love of the town that makes me want to improve the public services.

A system of parish councils was introduced because Swindon Council had run out of money and was having to close most of the libraries.

The Great Western Hospital is too small and had to halt all non-urgent operations as a way to cope with the current level of demand.

UKIP want a decent home and job for all. It was in our 2017 election manifesto that we wanted to build a million homes by 2020 to deal with the housing crisis affecting the young generation.

The voters in Swindon rejected the European Union policy of having open borders to the world in a referendum on 23rd June 2016.

Martin Costello, Eldene, Swindon

Fishy food prices

Can anyone explain why the price of fish is so ridiculously high?

I love fish and would eat it almost every day if it were more affordable. However I can buy 1.2kg of pork steaks for £3.50 at Asda, whereas two tiny see-through sea bass steaks were on offer for £3.50 yesterday just a few metres away.

Farmers have to raise and feed their livestock before selling them and that eats into their profits massively.

I understand fishermen have a boat to maintain and fuel costs to keep up with but any fish they catch are free range and cost nothing to raise. What a giant rip off.

Roger Lack, North Swindon

Don’t belittle abuse

What is the purpose of Des Morgan’s letter (27 Jan)? Does he want to deny or belittle the experience of those abused or attacked because they are perceived by some as different? Or is he just sharing his views on the reporting of crime statistics?

He claims a statement by a Wiltshire Police Superintendent, that “under-reporting of hate crime is still high”, lacks evidence. Whenever Des writes on anything addressing prejudice he evades central questions and worries away at the edges, around peripheral ones.

In my view the key issue here is how we oppose oppression. For example, racism is being used today to scapegoat immigrants for social problems they have nothing to do with causing. Daily hysterical reporting by tabloids deliberately sets up whole sections of our community as dangerous outsiders.

The consequence is we see increasing levels of violence and abuse on the streets.

The very rich people who run our society are a tiny minority and it is convenient for them to have the mass of ordinary people divided against ourselves, blaming each other for society’s ills.

Racism is not the only prejudice. Economic crisis has increased the hostility experienced by anyone perceived as different.

Fortunately, people have organised and fought back, not just against racism; we’ve seen a variety of movements for equality for women, abortion rights, equal pay etc and we’ve seen disabled people insisting they are part of our society.

These movements have led to some legal adaptations, often bureaucratic and tokenistic, but adaptations nonetheless.

It seems to me that where you stand on the problem of prejudice motivated abuse is more important than waffle about reporting.

That said, Des has misrepresented the legal situation and the College of Policing document in many ways.

The evidence Des denies is there. I suspect the superintendent is using the crime survey, but there have been many surveys.

Also, we need to make clear the distinction between “non hate crime incidents”, “hate incidents” and “hate crimes”. A “hate crime” is a crime (example assault) aggravated if caused by hostility or prejudice.

Crimes aggravated by, for instance, race or religion are prosecuted as basic offences and the judge then considers the aggravation at sentencing.

Peter Smith, Woodside Avenue, Swindon

Research help needed

A RECENT project at Christ Church, Old Town was to create a book with information about all those mentioned on the various war memorials in the church as well as those interred in the burial ground. This book can be found by the WWI war memorial next to the south entrance door.

On the WWII memorial for former pupils of the Boys’ High School in Bath Road is the name Hendrik de Veer. The scant information we have is that he was in the Dutch Underground and died in 1944. However, research in Holland has drawn a blank so far.

If anyone can furnish us with further information regarding this we would be most grateful. Email me on or contact me via the Parish Office, community centre@Christ Church, Cricklade Street, Swindon SN3 3HB.

Christine Senior, Hon Sec and Trustee, The Friends of Christ Church, Old Town

Tell us the true picture

Statistics again! But what do they mean (SA 27.1.18)?

As usual, the senior management of the police service try to put a positive spin on some disturbing figures. They tell us that the “way break-ins and thefts are recorded” may account for some of the changes in the statistics.

This is clearly correct; but the fact is that the actual number of crimes recorded, so, presumably, committed, has gone up – particularly for house burglary and thefts from cars. It is only the rate of increase in crime that has slowed.

The victims of these crimes want their crimes dealt with effectively. They are not concerned about whether the crime rate is higher in London or other counties. The one statistic that is missing from the report is how many of these crimes were solved or resulted in a successful prosecution.

The primary function of the police is to uphold law and order and to catch criminals. We are told that the police are “constantly changing their processes”; but is there any proof that they are more effective than the old methods? Have they been evaluated? And by what criteria are they judged?

The police have a difficult job to do – often in dangerous situations. They cannot solve crimes without evidence – so it is vital that they have the co-operation of the public. Their task is not helped by the extremely slow and protracted processes of the justice system; nor by some of the (apparently) lenient sentences handed down by the courts. Recently, they have had to divert some of their resources to try to collect evidence about some crimes that are alleged to have taken place several decades ago – a pretty thankless task.

If the police are not being given “the tools to do the job”, they should say so – publicly. Then we can all press our politicians to provide them with adequate resources.

Malcolm Morrison, Prospect Hill, Swindon

Use a bit of judgment

I SPEND a lot of time on Facebook and there is undoubtedly some vile stuff on there. It’s mostly posted by people you wouldn’t give the time of day to in real life and if they had to look you in the eye, could summon up nowhere near the confidence they display hiding behind a keyboard.

I want to stress that genuine stalking, following, waiting outside, phoning, ordering items, etc over a long period, is a vicious and despicable crime, which should be certainly punished with a custodial response… but there needs to be balance.

A recent story told of a rather foolish or possibly besotted 28-year-old who continued to send Facebook messages after the recipient said she no longer wanted to be contacted.

For his pains this young man has received 14 weeks inside, and a £115 fine, yet I frequently read in your columns of violent crime happily punished with community sentences and semi-conscious, drunken drivers without any thought for insurance, ending up with financial penalties and suspended sentences.

Added to the prison sentence (and short sentences are expensive and notoriously ineffective), will mean that the young man if he had a job, will now have lost it, he may have lost his home and this will severely limit his future employability.

Facebook has plenty of controls if you genuinely don’t want to be bothered with messaging. Surely there is an imperative for victims, however traumatised, to take reasonable care in the same way they would securely lock the front door or put call barring on a landline phone or heaven forbid, actually stay away from Facebook for a bit… or today is that expecting too much?

If we plan to imprison every foolish person, who perhaps late at night is given to posting stupid stuff on Facebook, then we need to be building vast numbers of new prison places. Where’s that Carillion phone number…?

John Stooke, Haydon End