The local elections that took place recently in Wiltshire, but not in Swindon, served to remind me that Swindon isn’t actually part of the county anymore.

When Swindon became a unitary authority and took charge of its own financial wellbeing, it effectively drove a wedge between the town and the county it once existed in.

As I understand it, it gave the town the right to keep all the money it raised, rather than share it out with its county neighbours via Wiltshire Council.

Akin to football’s ‘top’ teams resenting the money that they generate being distributed to ‘less worthy’ clubs, Swindon appeared to object to its wealth supporting more rural towns, and effectively formed it’s own, one-man Premier League.

Now I can understand the fiscal wisdom of that from Swindon’s point of view, and I wouldn’t begin to argue against the fairness of it either.

But by indicating that it considered itself the big brother of the relationship between town and county, Swindon set itself up to be disliked further afield, and at the same time reduced the reason for county-dwellers to tolerate it.

As Swindon divorced itself from Wiltshire, it seemed to indicate that it didn’t think it had anything in common with its country neighbours, something that many of those neighbours had thought for sometime.

Large towns obviously offer many facilities that aren’t found in the country, but almost everyone around me these days is a reluctant traveller when going in the Swindon direction.

Swindon now isn’t representative of Wiltshire, and it seems to me that it’s quite pleased about that. Many Swindon people seem to identify more with fellow M4 towns like Reading, than with their county kindred such as Trowbridge, Chippenham and Salisbury.

Perhaps it’s because Swindon’s location means people can be in Oxfordshire, Berkshire or Gloucestershire in a matter of minutes, so diluting the feeling that ‘home’ is Wiltshire. Turn south and drive an hour though, and you’ll still be in God’s own county.

Personally, as a Swindon Town supporter I joke that I’ve passed over to the dark side if I stray into Oxfordshire. I’ve known my Somerset-born wife for 30 years, and it’s only this year that I’ve been prepared to take her, for what was her third trip, to the county beginning with ‘O’.

Once every ten years. That’s enough for anyone surely.

And of course there is a huge irony that 50% of Swindon Town’s crowd is accepted as being from outside the borough’s boundaries. With an average gate of 8,500, just half that number (from a town’s population of over 200,000) bother to stroll to the County Ground to watch their team.

The country folk might not like the town, but they certainly seem to like the Town, putting 195,000 people to shame.

Tell any Mancunian his city is in Yorkshire and you’ll be left in little doubt that he cares very much for his Lancastrian home county. Do something similar in Swindon and you’ll often receive a feeling of indifference towards Wiltshire.

A born-and-bred Swindonian that I used to know, used to insist that what the town needed was a north/south motorway allowing him to access Birmingham and the south coast more easily.

Bypass the countryside in other words.

Meanwhile I felt it needed to reconnect with its surroundings a bit more and to realise that together, town and country could offer far more than the sum of its two parts.