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So sad to see my old school demolished

I was heartbroken to learn of the recent demolition of Clifton Street School.

I was a pupil there from 1967 to 1969.

It was such a happy school, run under the kindly guidance of the then headmaster Mr May who was positively involved and engaged with the children’s progress and always made time to speak to us on his daily rounds.

I have such fond memories of my dear teacher, Mr Rees, who relocated from Wales to Swindon to ease the teacher shortages being experienced nationally at that time.

This eloquent man instilled in me a life-long love of music, language and writing.

With his encouragement, I submitted a poem to the Evening Advertiser which you published in a feature in December, 1968.

The then Editor-in-Chief, F Hazel, further fuelled my writing ambitions by sending me a Postal Order for 7s 6d in payment for the article!

In my final year at the school, 1969, I went on to win a gold medal at the Swindon Festival with a story about my pet mouse.

I can still remember the excitement whenever Mr Rees organised a mass game of rounders on the sloping playground at the back of the school.

We kids, relishing the opportunity to be running about away from the ink-stained desk tops, would strive to whack the ball for six - out over the boundary fence and down into William Street!

If Ofsted had been around in my day this school would have been rated ‘outstanding’.

The developers, and planning consultants DPDS, clearly have no respect for the heritage and importance of this beautiful old building.

I fear that they are being aided and abetted by a council which knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

It’s not just a redundant Victorian façade - it’s the embodiment of everything that was good in the education system in those post war years and the love and dedication of all those wonderful ‘early years’ teachers who, undoubtedly, equipped us for life with knowledge, confidence and the ability to make our voices heard in an evermore challenging and mercenary world.

With the support of over 1,000 signatures on a recent petition (including mine) I trust that Swindon Borough Council must now take heed of the strength of feeling surrounding the preservation of Clifton Street School.

Georgina Murtagh (nee Harris), Brook Street, Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

Council has no power to hold IMH to account

I’m sure many Adver readers will have been quite surprised at the recent comment of the leader of Swindon Borough Council David Renard, who in respect of the ongoing farrago with Integral Medical Holdings said: “The council’s role is to hold external bodies and organisations to account, on behalf of its residents.”

That is quite a responsibility and I for one would like Coun Renard to explain the legislation he is referring to which gives Swindon Borough Council power to hold either the Clinical Commissioning Group or Integral Medical Holdings ‘to account’.

I am glad he does add to his comments by making it clear that the council has no direct control over IMH or the individual surgeries.

Clinical Commissioning Groups are independent, and accountable to the Secretary of State for Health through NHS England, while Integral Medical Holdings is a private company and the GP surgeries owned by the company do not answer to the borough council for their clinical or administrative activities.

The default position of politicians is to call for ‘enquiries’ and ‘reports’ – these give the impression of activity but do not necessarily lead to action being taken.

The CCG doesn’t need to produce a report on the failures of IMH, they are well known.

No report can accurately tell the council whether the phone appointment fiasco has had an effect of the GWH A&E department and councillors know this.

My understanding is that council activities are covered by such Acts of Parliament as The Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. I am sure Swindon taxpayers would rather borough councillors did more to hold the council to account.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

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