In the Adver (August 11) Rod Bluh wrote that he wanted to “make a few facts clear” in defending the council’s role with regard to the proposed school on the Croft site. Councillor Bluh shared his perspective and also stated that: “speaking up for your own interests is easy. Belonging to a small pressure group with a single goal is easy. Councillors and council officers have to rise above self-interest and consider the good of the whole community, not just one part of it.”
As a member of the Swindon community, I fully understand that along with many opportunities and privileges enjoyed by council leaders and their colleagues, they also have numerous, varied and difficult responsibilities and challenges. I recognise that, like me, councillors aren’t perfect, they’re just human and that they’ll sometimes make mistakes. As both a member of the wider Swindon community and a resident living adjacent to the proposed site for the school, I have witnessed and directly experienced the process to date, including mistakes that have alienated many in the local community. It is easy to dismiss people who oppose a council proposal as belonging to a small pressure group, a single issue or as “speaking up for their own interests.” While “easy”, this would be a mistake. When I went to school, I was taught that making mistakes is okay so long as you used the opportunity to learn from them, correct them and move forward better informed.
I learnt that the worst thing to do was to pretend that the mistakes didn’t exist.
During the period of so-called consultation I have learnt a lot.
I have learnt that the easiest thing for local residents would have been to do nothing at all, to ask no questions and to spend no effort or time trying to get answers.
I have been amazed and humbled by the commitment, diligence and energy of people from the local community in seeking answers, when the truth remains, at times, almost impossible to find.
I have learnt that just because a report is long doesn’t make it right.
The 122-page traffic report, at a cost of over £26,000, is widely acknowledged as being flawed. The major errors were revealed by the local community.
I have learnt that repeating that a process is open and transparent doesn’t make it so and that if local people, including school governors, head teachers, parents, ex-town planners and youth workers are still asking questions, honest answers are still needed.
I have learnt that £600,000 plus spent on the temporary primary school located on the Croft site was clearly a mistake as the predicted 60 pupils never existed, just 15 did, yet the wider community is expected to blindly trust the numbers next time round, with no clear accountability. Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Attempting to deride or dismiss the local community doesn’t feel good.
I really don’t know where the school saga will end, but I do know that if the numbers don’t add up for Old Town, that it shouldn’t be happening and that to charge local people £26,000 for a report recommending inaccurate and potentially dangerous access is wrong. We all have a responsibility to our wider community and asking questions is part of our role in this. Carole Bent Old Town, Swindon
Rules for cyclists
It is accepted that cyclists can be a nuisance on the pavements. They can whizz by at quite a pace and very rarely do they have bells to warn you that they need to pass, neither do they make the effort to slow down and say “excuse me.”
Most pavement cyclists are youths and children who have very little, or no, concept of road sense.
Motorists who cycle seem to think that the rules of the road only apply to motorised vehicles.
They ignore red lights at crossings and dangerous junctions.
They do not use hand signals, over shoulder checks and rarely remember to give way to the right.
All things which, as a motorcyclist, I would have failed my test for not acknowledging.
Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable of road users; cyclists even more so. By law motorcyclists must wear a helmet, so should cyclists!
Vehicle insurance covers all parties involved in accidents, but what about accidents caused by cyclists?
In London, subsequent to Boris Johnson introducing easy rental of bikes, the number of cyclists in the city centre has increased, along with it the number of accidents involving cyclists.
ALL road users should have the minimal level of formal training before they are let loose on the highways.
We acknowledge that the police do go into schools to teach children cycling proficiency.
However, being honest, even at my age, I barely remember doing my cycling proficiency, and being only 11 at the time, I didn’t take it all in. Those serious about using the roads will appreciate my point.
Road safety awareness need not be costly compared to the costs arising from the aftermath of road (pavement) safety ignorance.
Clare Danswan Old Town, Swindon
At risk on roads
Recently the Advertiser published an article about people cycling on pavements in Gorse Hill.
I cycle to the office every day and I’m also a motorist too.
I welcome the initiative to hand out on-the-spot fines to cyclists who break the law by riding on the path. They know they are in the wrong and clearly it is potentially dangerous. If it takes a fine to stop them doing it, then so be it. For some it may well be the only way they will learn. I would also like the same applied to people who cycle with no lights. As a motorist, when it’s dark you simply cannot see them.
Do they realise that they are putting their own lives at risk? When you consider it costs about £20 to buy a set, it is a small price to pay for your own personal safety. The police need to get tough with these people. If you ride with no lights then you deserve a fine. So go out and buy some. If not, please leave your bike at home and consider an alternative method of transport.
Alan Wilson Shapwick Close Nythe, Swindon
Bring back seat
I am happy in my little home and don’t go out very much but all my family and friends come around and all keep in touch.
In the morning when the sun is out, I love to sit on my love seat with table in between, so me and my hubby Jimmy eat our tea and toast, I wriggle my little toes, where the sun gets them roast.
We sit and chatter for ages, wave and talk to neighbours, as they go walking by.
It’s pouring with rain this Wednesday morning so inside I do stay, Thursday morning comes around, I hadn’t been outside.
My friends come round to say hello and then asked where my seat had gone, my love seat has been stolen.
Because it’s got eight legs, I know it cannot walk.
It was a birthday present from my lovely hubby Jimmy.
The person who stole my seat, please walk it back to me.
Christine Kowalkowski Cowling Park South, Swindon
Animals need aid
Reference the letter from John P Hunter, Swindon Advertiser August 18.
I do not see why Mr P Beaven should have to change his views on the rights of animals to be treated humanely.
If you decide to have a cause, you stick to it, even if Mr Hunter does not agree. It is quite shocking how this country treats animals.
The animals used in experiments has increased and some are very cruel.
In Ramsgate they are now exporting live animals in awful conditions for 23 hours with no food, water or stops We have fur farms and people blasting birds out of the air for fun.
Let’s not forget the domestic animals with rescue centres bursting at the seams and 30 per cent more pets dumped or given to centres, if lucky. These animals have no voice. At least Mr Beaven is trying to give them one.
Finally there is one bit of very good news. Battery cages are soon to be phased out. This was accomplished by lots of people protesting and not giving up.
Stephanie Giles Bodiam Drive Swindon