Why this delay?

In a recent conversation with council leader David Renard, he explained how he wished that the pace of progress could be much quicker than it is.

He cited the various rules and regulations which tied the council to act lawfully (no one could disagree with that) and fairly; often Swindon residents appeared unaware of the strictures which hampered officers and members.

But it isn’t always rules, procedures and processes which delay matters.

In the latest ‘Rewind’ section of the Adver (SA 25 November), journalist Barrie Hudson refers to the events of November 2002 and in particular to a statement made by the council when they declared “a developer has been found to regenerate the empty but relatively intact Locarno in Old Town.”

Council Leader Kevin Small expected work to begin within a year. Sadly eleven years later the Locarno remains empty and largely derelict.

In October 2007 new council leader Rod Bluh took to the pages of Swindon News and proudly proclaimed he and his team were delivering on the council’s promises.

It was in October 2007 that Coun Bluh’s deputy, Coun Fionuala Foley, announced her delight that the Locarno site was to be developed with an early 2008 start date for work to begin.

Coun Foley said, “I am delighted that we have managed to secure a vibrant new beginning for a historic building which is in desperate need of restoration.”

Six years on and there isn’t even the sign of a shovel being used on the site. So much for Coun Foley and her claim that, “We can now look forward to work starting soon.”

Claim and counterclaim for the delays in progress are made by all sides in the fiasco which is the development of the Locarno site; what cannot be denied is that the council through officers and members have made claims which have not resulted in a positive action or outcome.

The site remains derelict and, looking at the aerial views of what has grown within the outer walls, we may find the Locarno designated a wildlife reserve with ecological and environmental audits determining the pace of any future progress.

The latest news is that Bach Homes will submit a planning application in 2014, work may begin in 2015 with an opening date of 2017 being mooted.

Should it really take 15 years and more for a development such as this to come to fruition?

If the answer is yes then we must ask the question why and maybe change our attitude to developments of this type.

Is it clever to protect our heritage to the point we would rather see buildings become derelict rather than have them form part of new and vibrant beginning? Coun Foley’s words, not mine.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon


Badger problem

I read in the Farmers’ Guardian that North Wiltshire Tory MP and hunting supporter James Gray stated that, “one of my farmers has lost his entire herd on three separate occasions.

“He is reported to be driving a bus at the moment and going through terrible stress.”

I only hope that this new bus driving farmer is not on the school run as is he really in a fit state to be diving a bus with children onboard?

But on a more serious note the statements above and similar have been widely used to blame the badger for all the failings of the farming industry under the dictatorship of the NFU which has total control over DEFRA and Natural England.

The current bovine TB problem is down to restocking from West Country herds, which traditionally have a higher rate of bovine TB, after the last foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

If, indeed, this farmer has lost his entire herd on three separate occasions then what on earth is wrong on his farm?

I have seen no research on how badgers infect cattle other than a 1971 experiment which involved placing cattle in a small concrete pen with a dozen infected badgers.

This cruel experiment resulted in one calf getting infected after several months confinement and the government agency at the time, MAFF, concluded that this route of infection was negligible.

It is now known that modern farming practices have allowed bovine TB to spill out into the wildlife and with poor testing and uncontrolled cattle movements many farms will retain the disease for many months as the cycle repeats during restocking under poor bio-security and testing measures.

Badgers will soon become rare footage on BBC Autumn and SpringWatch.

Farmers have allowed the bovine TB problem to spread into the wildlife and now they seek to destroy the victims of their messy industry and all at the tax payers’ expense.

Graham Forsyth, Fairway Rise, Chard, Somerset


Thanks to store

On behalf of over 10 million people in the UK with hearing loss, I would like to publicly thank John Lewis for speedily re-releasing their Christmas television advertisement with subtitles.

The original omission has brought to light one of many challenges faced by deaf and hard of hearing people at Christmas.

Many people with hearing loss can feel isolated at Christmas and, while subtitling may seem trivial, Action On Hearing Loss members tell us that words and music, be it carols or lyrics sung by Lilly Allen is one of things they miss most.

And subtitles allow them to share the experience with family and friends.

The avalanche from the deaf community on social media following the lack of subtitles on the first John Lewis advert led Action On Hearing Loss to tweet the company and their response was immediate.

Subtitles were included in less than a week and we would like to thank John Lewis for an early Christmas present.

John Lewis responded in the spirit of Christmas and we would like to urge other retailers and members of the public to follow suit.

As the UK’s largest charity for the deaf, Action On Hearing Loss works to ensure people with hearing loss enjoy the best possible Christmas and ask everyone to take that extra effort to ensure family and friends who are deaf or hard of hearing do not feel excluded this festive season.

Rob Burley, Head of Public Affairs & Campaigns Action On Hearing Loss


Free to move

Oh dear, I have upset Mr Binns so much that he wants me to “clear off and leave the country.” Charming!

Any particular country or the further away the better? Why does Mr Binns want me to clear off? It appears that I like people from overseas making a life for themselves in the UK and he doesn’t.

As my views are shared by newspapers such as The Independent, The Guardian and others, would he like to see them closed down and their readers “clear off’” as well?

The 3.5 million immigrants that Mr Binns seems to dislike so much were replaced by the equal number of Brits living overseas.

Does he believe the crisis in housing, NHS, education and other public services would disappear overnight?

Wake up Mr Binns. We are living in 2013, not 1913 and a world of freedom of movement.

Your letter, “Spectacular mistake” was one full of anger and frustration. Sadly it was misdirected.

It should have been aimed at the real villains in society, those who are responsible for the financial crisis and this Government for its austerity policies that is creating anger, fear and division in society.

Your final line of “clear off and leave the country” is the last line of defence; they’re the words of a defeated man.

Martin Webb, Swindon Road, Swindon 


Reduce borrowing

In reply to Steve Thompson’s letter of 26 November there is unanimity regarding the need to reduce Government borrowing.

David Cameron borrows £300m a day and this is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

All political parties agree that this level of borrowing it too high.

Government borrowing has to be brought down to a reasonable level and hopefully income and expenditure should eventually be brought into balance.

Terry Hayward, Burnham Road, Swindon


Ban the bikes

I deplore calls for heavy goods vehicles to be banned from Central London during the day because of the percentage of these vehicles involved in the death of cyclists.

Such a ban would do immeasurable harm to the economy of the capital and would cost us all dear.

As 100 per cent of these fatal incidents involved pedal cycles, surely it would be more to the point to ban these dangerous contraptions during the rush hour, or better still, permanently.

After all, if it saves one child...

John Eoin Douglas, Spey Terrace, Edinburgh


In praise of show

We just had to write and say what a great time was had by my grandchildren and their mum and myself at the Stagestruck panto on its opening night. My grandson Cameron goes every year as a birthday treat with his brothers and sister.

It has always been a great show and this year was brilliant. The audience were kept amused from start to finish. Well done to all the cast and behind the scenes for a great night of family fun.

Mrs L Graham, the Pontin children and their mum, Swindon