With a number of soldiers returning home to Swindon from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, it is disappointing to discover that Swindon Borough Council has decided to use its discretionary powers to avoid giving them the partial refund of six months’ council tax to which many of them should be entitled.

The Ministry of Defence grants this money because the soldiers who are eligible have been paying full council tax on their privately owned homes, which effectively have become single-occupancy households for the six-month duration of the tour.

It is difficult to understand why this decision has been made. Councils routinely give rebates to households that have changed to single occupancy, often in very difficult circumstances, such as when a relationship breaks up or a householder is sent to prison.

It is absolutely right that they do so.

However, for the sake of a small sum of money to a few local householders, Swindon Borough Council seems determined to resist a national scheme championed by the government and Ministry of Defence to show soldiers returning from war that they are valued and have not been financially penalised for fighting their country’s wars.

It seems particularly harsh as, across the country, Armed Forces Welfare units have been instructing families to claim, in the full belief that the rebate will be given. As this initiative is widely implemented and deemed to be justified on a national level, at the very least Swindon Borough Council should make public its justification for taking this stand.

I Palmer Tattershall Swindon

Buses are a bust

With reference to R Denham’s letter on May 7 regarding the the obsolete number 23 bus service and the new 21 bus service, and his comments about the residents of Covingham and Nythe enjoying a luxury 15-minute service of the number 2 bus.

I was overcome with a hysterical fit of laughter. Luxury it is not my friend – by the time it chugs its way through Walcot for me to board on my daily commute to work, I am lucky to get on it as it is full to capacity on most mornings with daily commuters like myself, or college students making their way to either New College or Swindon College.

The passengers have increased threefold since the number 23 has gone out of service and it hardly ever runs on time, so it is in no way a luxury.

I have emailed Thamesdown Transport twice so far with my complaints about this service and have received quick replies on both occasions.

The last reply was they noted my comments and my views will be taken into account when the next review of bus journeys will take place.

When that will be? They did not enlighten me.

However, they did acknowledge that all services passing by the New College are very busy and therefore the number 2 service has to cater for the displaced passengers of the number 23.

To help with the situation, the company will be operating double-decker services on the 13/14 route to provide additional capacity.

I feel they have missed my point entirely. I do not live on the 13/14 route, so how is that going to help me with the number 2 route?

L H Salter Courtenay Road Walcot, Swindon

Stopping debate

I FEAR that H G Smith misunderstood my reply to J Curry’s letter about outmoded and unchristian punishments for various offences.

My complaint was he finished his letter by saying, “watch for the so-called do-gooders coming out of the woodwork.”

This is a device to make it difficult to reply to the letter as one would, apparently, admit to being a do-gooder.

H G Smith tries the same trick by using the terms “bleeding heart brigade” and “do-gooders” and later in his letter “human rights fanatics” and in doing so completely loses any moral advantage he might be seeking.

If I write a letter that someone disagrees with they are completely entitled to say that by holding the opinions that I do, they think I am a tree-hugging hippy, a pinko liberal, commie bleeding heart, do-gooder and human rights fanatic.

To do so to prevent debate, as was done in the above mentioned letters, is to try to deny free speech, which, dare I say so, is an inalienable human right.

Steve Thompson Norman Road Swindon

Doomed futures

The local election results for Labour was a long-term economic disaster for the country.

People do not realise it but they have just shot themselves in the foot regarding the future of their children and grandchildren.

For we are in an awful financial and economic mess that has to be sorted with a total debt by 2015, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ chief economist, of $16.4 trillion, nearly 50 per cent created whilst the last Labour government was in power for 13 years.

Councils in this respect can lay the right economic foundations locally between themselves and private business in creating jobs.

As I go around the country I see no Labour-controlled council interacting in any meaningful way with private business to provide the much-needed jobs and wealth that our children will need for their futures.

So we shall have another generation where our young will have virtually no meaningful life to look forward to.

Therefore, those families who voted to put Labour in charge of our councils have unwittingly stopped any hope locally that their children will have jobs in the future.

It amazes me why people, after being economically decimated by Labour, think that a protest vote will help them. The absolute opposite will be the outcome.

Just mark my words and when the next generation says they have no jobs, just look at yourself in the mirror, for it was you who has unsuspectingly made it that way.

Dr David Hill Chief Executive World Innovation Foundation

Wasteful parties

I WAS interested to receive Highworth Labour Party’s local election leaflet.

It highlights the wasteful Tory spending – £400,000 on a failed Wi-fi project. This pales into insignificance on the £12.7bn that was wasted by the Blair/Brown government on their failed IT system – £12bn would have funded 60,000 extra nurses for 10 years. Total hypocrisy!

Bart Borchardt Highworth