IN the last week or so there have been protests at the threatened closure of Sandalwood Court, Swindon’s NHS place of safety for vulnerable people suffering acute and horrible mental anguish.

If the trialled closure becomes permanent, patients face the added trauma of being torn from the town they call home and taken to Devizes, away from their familiar surroundings and their loved ones.

We have also heard that the borough council is to set about implementing massive budget cuts imposed by Whitehall.

As I’m a glass-half-full type of person, with not a grain of cynicism in my psyche, I’ve been analysing various closures of vital services of all kinds over the last decade or so, with a view to coming up with a positive solution which will stop the process and prevent any more heartache and fear.

I reckon I’ve stumbled on the answer.

What we should do is club together as neighbourhoods, have sumptuous residences built in our midst and offer them to rich people free of charge.

No, bear with me.

Swindon is a densely-populated place. I reckon that if we divided the town into, say, square half-miles and had whip-rounds, each of those square half-miles could easily raise enough to buy a local site and build a mini-mansion on it.

Then it would be time to recruit the rich people. We’d have to do that job very carefully, though. We couldn’t have the self-made, dynamic but modest kind, especially if they came from humble beginnings.

What we’d have to look for is the arrogant kind who owe their wealth to a talented ancestor, are personally as much use as the proverbial piece of string to a man with dysentery and yet believe themselves innately superior.

These are the people we’d need to offer the mini-mansions to, and assure them they could stay as long as they wished at no charge.

They’d be free to accumulate as much dosh from their investments, trust funds, stocks, shares and renting out their other properties as they desired.

The only condition? They’d be obliged to use any and every taxpayer-funded service offered in the square half mile that raised the cash to attract them.

You see, during my researches into cuts, I discovered that not a single service used by people such as the ones I’ve just described has ever been threatened with so much as the loss of a potted rubber plant in the foyer.

Imagine if every service had that protection.

Imagine the scenes among important decision-makers behind closed doors.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid we’ll have to reconsider our proposal to close the health and wellbeing centre. We can’t even go ahead with our Plan B option of only opening it on every third Thursday and between 11.23am and 11.31am on the fourth Sunday before Easter.

“You see, we’ve had a letter from a solicitor representing a family with four hyphens in their surname, who moved into the mini-mansion down the street. That’s right, the ones whose ancestral fortune is based on a special pen knife attachment for prising bread from the mouths of the poor.

“She says one of the family members uses the health and wellbeing centre on a regular basis, and that if we close it they’ll drag us through the County Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and quite possibly the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

“Apparently if the family member comes to any harm we’re all going to find ourselves sharing cells with people who think it’s okay to eat prisoners of war.

“I move we vote to formally abandon our plan. All in favour?

“Carried unanimously.”