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From rags to riches

I HAD the pleasure of attending the Swindon Library on Saturday for the launch of a new Swindon book about the life and times of Eastcott and the role that Alderman James Raggy Powell played in its development.

James Powell came to Swindon with his parents as an immigrant from Ireland and was a well-known rag and bone man in Swindon (thus called raggy by the children).

He was self-taught with the help of a friend Reuben George (later to be Mayor) another immigrant from Wales, and the GWR Mechanics Institute.

Both men went on to be councillors and were loved by the people of Swindon.

Mr Powell made many gifts, like paintings and sculptures to the museum and to the town that he loved.

He also gave land for the provision of Education with a trust to go with it which still exists today.

He also did a great deal of work during the First World War to raise funds for the wives and children of those who had their man at the front.

For this he was the first person to be honoured as a freeman of Swindon in 1920.

Now to the point of this letter, despite this man’s devotion to this Town it has never recognized him in any way, not even a street named after him.

This I feel our present day Councillors should rectify as a matter of urgency, there must be a building or School etc that could be given this man’s name so that Swindonians of the future will remember him and all the things that he did for this town.

I know our councillors read this page, as I have had feedback from them before, so let’s see which ones take up this task and put this injustice right.

If you would like to read more about this formidable fighter for Swindon you can buy the book, Legacy Of A Rag And Bone Man from the main library.

ROY CARTWRIGHT, Pinnegar Way, Covingham

We should walk away

Steve Rouse needs to open his mind and accept Brexit. Take it line by line.

1) Taking Britain into the EEC was based on lies. It would only be a Trade Agreement we were told. I actually voted to stay out because the “Outers” told you exactly which direction this European Economic Community was truly heading, and they were right, but no one listened.

2) The debate over leaving the clutches of a bunch of unelected bureaucrats has dragged on for years. Blair reneged on his promise of a referendum in 1997. Thanks to the courage of Nigel Farage the people of this country were finally given a vote.

3) Rubbish, Cameron didn’t think we were bright enough to disregard his fantastic renegotiations.

4) Had the “remoaners” won by the same margin would they insist on a second referendum to satisfy the leavers? Be honest.

5) The referendum to join the EEC, then turn it into a superstate via Maastricht and the Lisbon Treaty was also unprecedented. The rules and the criteria are actually the UK’s red lines, which the EU will not sanction.

6) The wild frenzy comes because people like Steve will not accept a democratic vote.

7) The Government and Brexiteers are quite clear about their aims for Brexit. This referendum decision to leave the EU is above Party politics, it’s ministers who, like Steve, will not accept a democratic vote, that are feeding the EU with false hope that we will change our minds if they can stall negotiations for long enough.

8) Of course there is no clarity, we are fighting 27 other countries, each with their own agenda. The deal is in their hands, and they won’t talk about the important issues. The UK should walk away now and not keep offering bribes.

9) Oh, come on, you know the red lines. An end to free movement of people. No more membership fees. British justice system supreme, although that, too, needs a total overhaul. The right to deport undesirables with no interference. The right to trade with whom we wish. An elected Parliament that we can hold to account.

The heavy price is already here. Nothing to do with Brexit, almost £2 trillion of national debt, such a huge sum it’s being ignored.

Now Steve, tell us the cost of staying “in”. For a start give me the figure of next year’s UK membership fee?

ALAN SPENCER, Crossways, Swindon

Our tax gets very little

Let us look at the idioms of improbability regarding the Swindon Council and all the Grand Poo Baa’s wages - at taxpayers’ expense.

Taxpayers faced the highest rise this year, including the new parish tax in England.

Will they reduce it next year? Blood out of a stone comes to mind.

In return we have a town centre that has universally been hammered on these pages from all and sundry. I only enter it only when it is absolutely necessary.

Regarding the new museum, may I suggest that instead they build a zoo at Coate Water?

There they should build an enclosure with an elephant in the room, then put a sign up outside naming it the Swindon Museum.

They should do the same with the new car park near the Courts of Justice. Learn by your mistakes?

May I suggest that Swindon Town Football Club plays for 365 days at home next year. Then we may get the police presence in the town centre every day that used to be common practice, instead of police cardboard cut outs in some shopping venues, which would not scare a kitten never mind a hardened thief.

Do pigs fly?

Finally, last but not least, would all the contributors to the letters pages stop writing letters in about Brexit and Remain.

Let the politicians sort this out. It is now, as a die-hard Brexiteer, boring me to tears.

A bit of humour now and again would cheer the readers up. A young Scotsman emigrated to New York. He applied to join the police force and was asked the question, ‘how would you disperse an unruly, violent mob?’

He replied, ‘Well in Glasgow we just pass the hat round for a charitable collection.They are gone in minutes.’

BILL WILLIAMS, Merlin Way, Covingham, Swindon

Cemetery needs work

I READ with some interest the weekly column of the council leader this morning.

When I had finished, I collected up my garden tools and went on my way to cut the grass on several graves, at the Whitworth Road cemetery.

It was bad enough, having to clear all the leaves around some of the graves, but when I got to the grave of a friend, Anna Mazzotta, who is buried on the far right hand side of the cemetery, I came unstuck.

The whole of that right side of the cemetery, is under nearly a foot of water.

My mower isn’t fitted with underwater apparatus, so I had to stop.

The council leader tells us with some glee, that the council can find £5m, (I suspect borrowed is more the word), for the new museum, but is prepared to leave these poor souls to lie in that water week in week out.

I would have thought, that, as this is not a new problem, the council could put in a simple, but effective drainage for the plot, but I suspect that the cost is the problem.

Advice please.

T REYNOLDS, Wheeler Avenue, Swindon

We all hate these tills

A charity called ‘Anchor’ has conducted a survey that concluded older people are put off from going shopping because automated tills are unfriendly and intimidating.

Rubbish! People of ALL ages are put off these tills because they are awful and useless.

Almost every item has to be re-scanned because ‘an unexpected item was put in the bagging area’.

The wind only has to blow outside the building slightly for an item to be unrecognised.

The till expects an item to be scanned and placed in the bag in two seconds or it complains ‘do you wish to bag this item?’

For no reason whatsoever the whole thing stops repeatedly and requires a member of staff to come and enter their password and get it going again.

The Asda workers I know hate these things completely as they spend their entire shift running around like mad dealing with endless, pointless stoppages.

Whoever invented and programmed these dud machines has obviously never been shopping or used one themselves.

Get rid of them!

ROGER LACK, North Swindon

I avoided congestion

I WAS interested to read in the SA that I am not the only one who questions the use of bus lanes.

I recently drove down one and was caught on camera and fined £30.

I was driving from my home in Lawn to the church on Upham Road. The bus lane was empty, in fact Upham Road was empty.

Queens Drive was nose to tail. It seemed sensible to me. I didn’t want to add to the congestion.

I agree that rather than spending money on a new museum we should restore the Locarno and the Mechanics Institute, a part of Swindon’s history.

It would be lovely to have a small garden (with toilets) in Temple Street where the Baptist Tabernacle once stood.

The stone that is stove stored would make a lovely feature in the garden. Market stalls could set up there too and it would be better than another tower block.

If anyone is homeless it would be a better place to sleep too. At least they would have somewhere to wash and a loo.

Perhaps the Mechanics Institute could be a hostel?

MARY ROGERS, Beverstone Grove, Swindon

Fines are unfair

I HAVE just received a fine for driving in the Penzance Bus Drive Lane, in Swindon.

I have no recollection of doing this, or even where it is, as I am new to the Wiltshire area and do not know the Swindon road system.

I note many thousands of drivers have been fined in the same place.

I can only surmise the signage has not improved since this lane came into force and this is probably because it is a lucrative earner for the council.

It is almost a licence to print money for them. Surely the figures alone prove something is not right?

How long is the council going to be allowed to get away with this?

PATRICIA BOYD, Hunts Mead, Bromham

Thanks for the cash

Swindon Guide Dogs would like to thank everyone who attended the Christmas Coffee Morning at The Crown Inn on November 25.

The event raised £845.

We would also like to thank Danielle, Taniya and the other members of The Crown Inn for their support.

ALAN FLETCHER, Swindon Guide Dogs