JUST when you thought all those digs at Swindon had well and truly ceased, the town has become the butt of yet another slating – this time from Hemel Hempstead.

The hapless Hertfordshire town to the north of London has dared to compare its tricky traffic island to the likes of our own Magic Roundabout.

While the gyratory junction may have been dubbed after Florence and Zebedee’s playground, it is Swindon’s system that holds the official title.

But our Magic Roundabout, railway heritage, League One football team, and showbiz sons and daughters did not stop phantom sign-writer Tophe from re-writing Hemel Hempstead’s welcome sign to read “Welcome to Hemel Hempstead, probably better than Swindon”.

The story was swiftly picked up by the Hemel Gazette, which was equally as quick to stick the boot in.

Reporter David Tooley even had the audacity to dub Swindon a toy town compared to the delights of Hemel, because of our showbiz twinning with Disney World.

Swindon stalwart John Brown, 73, was outraged to read the piece after his sister Jean Warburton, a Hemel resident, took much glee in popping it in the post to him.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said John, who lived in Swindon for 30 years before moving to Wanborough in the late 1980s.

“It is all too easy to knock Swindon but I say it is a land of opportunity.

We have industry, we have history, we have culture and we have character. It doesn’t say much for Hemel Hempstead if it has to resort to an age old stereotype of Swindon to make itself look better.”

Swindon was the original home of the Great Western Railway and the Great Western Railway Medical Fund Hospital was the blueprint for the current NHS.

John said: “I was part of the London overspill and was desperately in need of a home. Swindon gave me that home and I would never leave. Even moving the few miles to Wanborough was a big decision.

“I am proud to call Swindon my home and won’t accept anyone putting us down.”

As well as John, over the years Swindon has also been home to the original blonde bombshell Diana Dors, the band XTC, Ryder Cup golfer David Howell, explorer David Hempleman-Adams, the Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward, 70s pop legend Gilbert O’Sullivan, writer and poet Richard Jefferies, actress Billie Piper, model Melinda Messenger and television presenter Mark Lamarr.

Swindon also has the beautiful Coate Water, ice rink, railway and science museums. Swindon Town FC are in League One, are pushing for promotion to the Championship and were once in the Premiership. Even Swindon’s second team, Swindon Supermarine, are only one place behind Hemel Hempstead in the Southern League Premier Division.

And speaking of Supermarine, let’s not forget 120 of Reginald J Mitchell's 40,000 Supermarine Spitfire's were produced in Swindon.

“Swindon has so much history, so much to be proud of,” said John. “I think if you can make it in Swindon, you can make it anywhere.

“There’s so much going on here all the time, we have a huge diverse community and so much here that makes Swindon a great place to live. Hemel Hempstead can’t hold a torch to us, it was an overspill town from London too but it has never evolved past that.”