WHEN a load of garbage was found dumped at a beauty spot on the Ridgeway, a Swindon Borough Council official rightly said that those responsible should be ashamed.

They won’t be ashamed, though.

We’re talking about somebody - or several somebodies - whose mental processes run along the lines of: “Hmm, here’s a part of the countryside which is not only beautiful but historic, having been travelled by human beings for thousands of years.

“Shall I leave it as it is, or shall I dump a load of old wood, tyres and knackered domestic appliances here?

“I choose option two.”

The council is obliged to expend ridiculous amounts of time and resources - which it can ill-afford - on clearing junk and trying to track down perpetrators.

Some of those perpetrators are members of the public who don’t do any dumping themselves, but knowingly engage the services of dodgy no-questions-asked contractors.

I wish there were some sort of law which said nobody offering clearance services was permitted to do so unless they provided a working landline number and allowed their registration number to be noted by clients.

If a client failed to do this, and was identified as having turned a blind eye to an obvious flytipping operation, they could then be dragged into court alongside whoever did the actual dumping.

Oh, and in an ideal world the entire contents of any unofficial dump where their stuff was found, even if not all of it belonged to them, would be dumped in their garden and an order for proper disposal issued.

I reckon two or three high-profile cases would be all that was needed to adjust some attitudes.


THERE seems to be a growing epidemic of delusion.

Thank heavens there are plenty of level-headed people in very important positions to steer us away from our foolishness. Clearly, nobody apart from them is immune from the mania for imagining things which simply aren’t true.

Only the other day, for example, a local head teacher complained that he might be forced to make teachers redundant because of a lack of funds.

The school, he said, had never experienced a financial deficit before, but expected a five-figure deficit next year and a six-figure one the year after that.

This simply cannot be true, of course, and neither can the similar claims made by other head teachers across the country.

The important people in overall charge of this sort of thing say spending on education has never been higher, and we should all believe them. After all, they are important people and wouldn’t have got to be important people unless they knew what they were talking about.

Head teachers are not important people, and clearly don’t know anything about school funding or education in general - apart from the few scraps of information they can glean from spending their entire working lives being in charge of schools, budgets and teacher numbers, day in and day out.

Instead of complaining, they should simply count their cash allocations again. If they do, I’m sure they’ll discover there’s never been more money per pupil, proving that anybody who says otherwise is a big fibber.

In fact, if head teachers care to visit their staff rooms, they’ll probably discover at least a couple of dozen teachers who were taken on years ago but haven’t yet been assigned any duties because somebody forgot.

While they’re at it, the head teachers should have the caretakers unlock any cupboards that haven’t been opened for a while. They’re probably stuffed with forgotten wads of cash, piles of gold coins and stuff like that.

We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of these delusions, incidentally.

When our children come home from school with tall tales about massive class sizes, trips being cancelled because of a lack of funds, equipment breaking and not being replaced, and perhaps even entire courses being affected because there aren’t enough teachers and temporary ones have to be brought in from agencies, we should send them to bed without any dinner as punishment.

On a slightly different subject, I’d like to apologise to the important people in overall charge for my own delusions regarding an event which happened near Old Town a while back.

When a 15-year-old child was stabbed in the chest during some sort of brawl, and witnesses later described seeing what appeared to be a machete at the scene, I was a bit worried for public safety.

I was even more worried when I realised that it was the third such incident in Swindon in as many months, with a teenager slashed last month and three youths accused of stabbing a young man in the chest in September.

Fortunately, I then heard some important people say there was no cause for alarm, so now I won’t be alarmed at all.

Of course, not everybody is as sensible as I am. Some don’t trust the important people.

Perhaps the important people should come up with a way of proving they are telling the truth.

They might care to send their children to schools whose head teachers claim underfunding, say.

Or take casual late night strolls alone in supposedly dangerous parts of town.