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Not a day of celebration

So, according to the Adver (June 10), another day of celebration is arriving in Swindon on June 22 for Armed Forces Day.

This is not a day for celebration, it is an event at which all those attend will see face-painting stalls, ice cream sellers, burger vans, choirs and much more all that is set up alongside numerous military recruitment tables and where children – yes, children – are able to handle guns. The reality of Armed Forces Day is that its a great day for recruiting impressionable youngsters into the military and where war is seen as being fun and exciting.

In your report, Capt Andy Skiffington says: “It’s a good day where lots of people come out to enjoy themselves, there are lots of activities. It’s a a day of celebration.”

I wonder if he was to make those comments to the families who have been slaughtered, maimed and displaced by the UK forces in the name of war, what their response would be? War is brutal, inhumane and causes unimaginable suffering on an horrendous scale. There is nothing to celebrate in Armed Forces Day whatsoever.

Martin Webb, Old Town, Swindon

Play fair over square

David Renard’s praise (SA, June 5) for the Cavendish Square regeneration completely contradicts the lived experience of the local community.

The fact is that we were promised an indoor shopping centre. In the consultation it was agreed that the square would have a roof over it and the shopping centre would be locked up at night. What we got was a square without drainage which floods when it rains heavily, a car park with the decaying remnants of a fence which does not safely separate cars and pedestrians, and inadequate lighting which makes it unsafe at night. The variety of shops is worse than the old square. The developer left the old Co-op site derelict. It took us two years to get it tarmacked, creating a second car park.

The irony of David Renard’s reference to money for the library is not lost on the community since his administration proposed to end support for it. It only remained as part of the core council service because of the campaign.

The council allowed the developer to escape without delivering its commitments. Once it gave the land away it washed its hands of the problems. Sorry, we don’t own it was the stock response. The various private companies that have come and gone have only been interested in the rent they collect, treating the local community with disdain.

We recently learned that the council has, after a fashion, become interested in Cavendish Square again. They bought back land they used to own, for more than £3 million: the land on which the new Co-op sits, the associated car park and the pharmacy. Their rationale was the rent which is nearly £200,000 a year. They could do the same with the other shops and the floor of the square, for half the price they paid, and have the rents of more than £150,000. If they owned it then we could resolve the immediate problems.

Rather than assessing buying back this land according to a ‘commercial’ criteria, the council should accept its responsibility towards the local community who they have seriously let down. The square is not the focus for the local community that it used to be.

That’s why we have called a demonstration on June 22 at 10am at the square to demand that the council accepts its responsibility to resolve the long-standing problems.

Martin Wicks, Secretary, Parks & East Walcot Community Forum, Welcombe Avenue, Park North

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