I attended the Police & Crime Commissioner’s ‘hustings’ meeting at the Central Community Centre in Swindon on 23 October 2012. It was extremely well organised and those responsible should be congratulated. I estimate there were around one hundred people present, so I was encouraged that some folks still believe in listening to those who wish to represent us.

I’m going to try to act like an Alan Sugar and eliminate one by one, until I arrive at my choice for the Commissioner post. On the night we were introduced to:- 1. Colin Skelton, Independent, from Salisbury, a former police officer who no doubt would have an extremely good knowledge about the operational side of Wiltshire and Swindon Police. However, one must balance the poacher-turned-gamekeeper against the possibility that their relationship might be too close. I wasn’t convinced by his argument that he would “put 300 new police officers on the streets of Wiltshire”, no timetable for that was given and I await with interest his promised budget to see how they were to be financed.

2. Liam Sillcocks, Independent, from Trowbridge, works in IT/telcoms. Started very nervously clearly not used to public speaking. However, came across to me as sincere and gave the impression that he would be prepared to challenge the establishment (a thing after my own heart!).

3. John Short, UKIP, from Swindon, ex-senior borough council officer. Despite his poor delivery, I thought he came across surprisingly well. I didn’t quite follow why this former Conservative councillor was standing under UKIP colours when he appeared to be arguing from an independent point of view.

4. Clare Moody, Labour, from Salisbury, a trade union officer. I thought she started a little nervously, but together with the two ladies chairing and reading out the questions, provided a good woman’s perspective. Her concluding two minutes I consider by far the best. With the risk of being accused of being sexist I do wonder how she would cope in what, I think, is a very male dominated profession.

5. Angus Macpherson, Conservative, from Swindon, an accountant. Knowledgeable, gained from being a JP, involvement with a number of local charities and family tradition of political activity. Confident, maybe a little over-confident, his presentation did not inspire me about the issues under discussion.

6. Paul Batchelor, Liberal Democrat, from Warminster, a businessman. Big disappointment, ill prepared clearly out of his depth – even failed to attempt to answer one question.

Sorry Paul, you’re fired. Now there are five.

Brian V Cockbill Stratton Road, Swindon

School expert

In response to the letter from Carol Bent. To compare votes in a local election to the sum of the signatures in a multi-petition is a strange comparison. The truth is that I lost the election in Old Town and I accept that fact. However, you lost the battle to stop Croft School being built but cannot accept it.

On the subject of school governors, do you know Carol that I was; 1. The chair of governors at Toothill primary school.

2. A governor at Shaw Ridge primary school.

3. A governor at Greendown secondary school?

My local primary school is situated at the bottom of my garden so when I talk about the subject I do have good background knowledge to fall back on.

On a different subject I was awarded The Pride of Swindon Award this year for my work in the community. Last year the charity I run also Won The Pride of Swindon Award for the same thing so again I know what I am doing.

It is a pity that you did not support your community and council a couple of years ago instead of fighting a non-winnable campaign against Croft School being built.

Finally, may I wish you all the best in your efforts for the future.

Keep up the tree planting.

Peter Mallinson The Bramptons Swindon

Canal not priority

I had a little chuckle to myself reading Mr Coyle’s comments about Forward Swindon and their plans. Oh the arrogance of the members of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust!

He has the brass neck to suggest that all of the Swindon population is waiting with baited breath for a canal! He quotes that Swindon Council and numerous businesses want it, he says national sporting and leisure bodies want it and Oxford Council and Wiltshire Council want it.

But what about the PEOPLE of Swindon? Yes there may be some interest but the vast majority would rather we had a decent sized theatre, concert hall, art gallery and so on, but most of all would like to enjoy a shopping/ eating out experience.

I wonder how many of Swindon’s people decamp to Bristol, Oxford, Bath, Cardiff and London every weekend in order to spend their money.

J Hill Grosmont Drive, Swindon