First declaration of interest; I am not a member of St Michael’s although I do attend services on special occasions such as Maundy Thursday. I am not a member of the Church of England and Val Hull is a friend of mine, but she is wrong in her opposition to the refurbishment of the interior of St Michael’s. The church was revamped in Victorian times and most of the furniture dates from that time. She complains the pews will be replaced with “mass-produced chairs”. I have no doubt that the pews were mass-produced in the terms of those times. The present pews are uncomfortable for more than half an hour. Chairs will also allow the space to be used more flexibly, such as when there are concerts.

The screen is less than a century old and adds to the gloominess of the church. Removing it will allow light from the beautiful east window to flood into the nave. It is also dusty as I understand that health and safety requirements mean that expensive scaffolding has to be erected to reach the top of the crucifix.

The church should be a living, vibrant part of the community and it cannot be this if it is considered to be a Victorian museum preserved in aspic. Go for it St Michael’s.

Geoffrey Heaford The Green Highworth Swindon

...have your say

With regards to the article ‘Church hit by an unholy row’ Wednesday March 28, as a group of people opposing some of the changes to St Michael's Church, Highworth, we are extremely grateful to you coming to see us, so we had an opportunity to put our views on the Big Picture Group proposals.

However your reporter put the bigpicture email address at the bottom of that article for comments and as we are opposing their plans, they are hardly likely to forward these comments to us if they are negative ones, especially as to date they seem to be of the opinion that the plans are acceptable, although as a group we are yet to find one single person in favour. I have received supportive phone calls after my letter appeared in last Friday’s paper and we would be grateful if you could make it known that we would also like to receive comments from the community and they can be sent to my email address

To make the entire thing fair, it would be acceptable to be copied on anything sent to the bigpicture and vice versa. Many thanks.

Val Hull Pound Road Highworth Swindon

Are you hiding?

I have just returned from the last full council meeting before the elections and asked the following two questions: l What precedent exists in the public sector for a council to pay for the preparation of accounts for a Private Limited Company to whom it made a business loan?

l By what means does the council intend to make these accounts available to the people of Swindon?

The deputy leader and Director of Digital City (UK) Ltd., councillor Garry Perkins answered in his abbreviated style that he would give a ‘written answer’.

As a supplementary question I asked if he would be including the written answers to the questions I asked at full council last April 2011? He replied that he would answer the questions asked tonight. Madame Mayor refused me the opportunity to ask any further questions, which is unfortunate and contrary to the spirit of public engagement.

Is this the right way for a council to conduct its business and does it indicate they have something to hide? It will be very interesting to see if the Deputy Leader writes this time when he has failed previously.

Richard Symonds The Bramptons Swindon

Town’s a mess

May I through the Adver ask the following question to the Swindon town planners? Just what are you doing to this town?You have made a complete mess of the Whalebridge area and are now hell bent on doing the same to the roundabout close to Whitehouse Road/Beatrice Street creating a bottleneck. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

The centre has become a ghost town. Take a look at Bristol, you may learn something. It has character buildings, good shopping and the roads work and I guess most Swindon shoppers leave their money at Cabot Circus. Do you blame them?

Whatever character buildings this town did have, you have torn down or neglected them until they have become beyond repair, such a shame. I can still remember some of the old buildings, The Tabernacle, The Heritage, Old Town, and McIlroys, and of course the Mechanics Institute! I have lived in this town on/off for the past 50 years and have seen it decline.

Wake up and start spending the money a bit more wisely.

Mrs J Kubiak Woodchester Swindon

...more waste

Over the past few weeks there have been several letters and articles commenting on how the Tories in Swindon Council are wasting our money.

I’m afraid I have bad news for Mr Cartwright (Letters, February 29). If you thought the sums of money you quoted were a waste of money, you are in for a very big surprise. In the Tory budget is a figure for a new car park in the town centre to cost £15m. Imagine the mortgage on that! With the town centre faltering and stumbling, hopefully in a forward direction, perhaps a new car park isn’t necessary. When I travel into the town on the bus, I notice there are always spaces, even in the much sought after surface level car parks.

There have been letters from my colleague, a former Thamesdown Councillor, Bob Pixton and some of his conclusions warrant closer examination. He contends that the combined effects of online and out of town shopping both have the effect of reducing the footfall in the High Street. Not rocket science but a valid argument.

The number of closed shops are testimony to this. Recent large town centre shopping events have seen the opening of another £1 shop and a mini-supermarket together with the down grading of House of Fraser to an outlet store, hardly likely to pull in shoppers for an exciting retail experience.

If the Tory Government’s guru on the High Street comes here she will also notice another reason why Swindon’s town centre is dying – people don’t have the money to spend.

Jim Bonham Tansley Moor Swindon

Blooming late

I saw the article and picture in the Adver of two Conservative councillors planting trees along Dorcan Way. I am pleased for the people of Dorcan that they are getting 1000 trees, it is a shame that they are being planted too late for deciduous trees, especially in what promises to be a severe drought.

Can anyone explain why this lateness? It is a shame that this regard for the natural environment is not extended to Dukes Field, the Park in Gorse Hill, which the council is giving away for nothing to Kevin McCloud’s development company.

Coun Heenan, who is shown in your photo, is perhaps this park’s only chance as he is chair of the planning committee.

He could turn down the planning application for this piece of vandalism, provided of course he is still chairman after the upcoming council elections.

Jessie Fox Redhouse Way Swindon

Taken for fuels

As advised by the Government, and because the tank needed filling, I went to buy fuel for our car last week in Chippenham.

As there was a longish queue at Sainsbury’s I went to the nearby Texaco station, where it was 1p per litre more for diesel.

I filled up and went to pay. The man on the desk had just taken a phonecall and called his assistant over to take over.

She told me that the call had been to instruct them to stop the pumps and increase the price of petrol by 2p per litre before restarting selling! My only consolation was that our car is diesel! So once again motorists are gouged and big oil companies reap fat profits at our expense!

Maggie Lewis Beckhampton Marlborough

...greedy drivers

Some £45,000 a year is what tanker drivers are earning. Tanker drivers are already earning nearly twice the average wage for Britain, yet their greed drives them on to strike for even higher wages. Ordinary people can only dream of what it would be like to earn £45,000 a year.

Steve Halden Beaufort Green Swindon

Thanks lads

Lots of people are quick to decry the behaviour of young people today. I have recently had a much happier experience.

I am disabled and use an electric scooter to do my shopping in Cavendish Square. Last Monday, outside the newsagents, I couldn’t get my scooter to start.

I had forgotten to take my phone to had no way of contacting my family. However, two young lads offered to push me in my scooter to my home. I apologised for it being quite a long way, but they just said “no problem”. When we got to my home I offered them some recompense, but they would not accept a penny! So again lads, whoever you are, thank you.

H Grace Park South Swindon