This blog is all about how Swindon can be viewed from outside the borough’s boundaries, and so often I read yet another story that suggests it has taken another step to be visitor unfriendly.

The last time I left rural Wiltshire to visit Swindon was on 3rd May. That’s almost ten weeks ago, and I can be sure of the date because it was the last time Swindon Town played at home.

I realise I’m inviting criticism by admitting that. This ex-Rodbourne boy finds fewer and fewer reasons to visit his old stomping ground, so perhaps my comments become less valid or justifiable if I appear to ‘use’ Swindon rather than take every chance to return.

My usual routine on a matchday is to park up around 12:30, walk to Regent Street and visit a few regular haunts. They are likely to include a bookshop or two, Marks and Spencer, Robert Dyas and perhaps a trip to the bank.

A stop at the newsagents in Regent Circus buys me an Adver, then a Wetherspoons might feature for refreshment and a perusal of the paper, before a saunter to the County Ground for kick off.

One thing I’m not afraid to do is walk.

But one thing I am reluctant to do is pay for a parking ticket.

I begrudge getting back home, perhaps with no purchases at all, while the only reason for being several pounds lighter in the pocket is the price of a slip of paper that allowed me to occupy a parking space for five hours.

So the move to further pedestrianise the centre of town should only affect me in moderation. I was going to walk in town anyway, and who would want to drive around the ‘traffic’ systems that are Regent Circus and Whale Bridge?

So to the story.

Yet another move is afoot to attempt to demonise the motorist who has the temerity to park in the streets. Some Walcot and Park North residents object to cars being parked outside their houses, and further restrictive lines or residents parking schemes are being considered.

Confusingly a councillor said ‘The main issue is football fans, but it is mainly commuters who park and walk into town’.

Which of the two is that again? One group is a nuisance for a couple of hours, the other for nine or so hours a day, five days a week.

Oh, and the councillor says that some of the residents don’t mind at all!

If implemented, the plan will continue to force motorists to a car park, through the bottle-necked Whale Bridge and/or Regent Circus junctions, right on the edge of the pedestrianised area. The very area that the council has done everything to make drivers avoid, and then built a huge car park at.

Now, I’m not one of those who actually parks in Walcot or Park North, but sometime I DO park (respectfully and responsibly) outside someone’s house. I reason that the resident might own the house, but not the street.

Some might find that attitude unacceptable, some might nod in agreement. Even the residents of Walcot and Park North can’t agree on it.

So, where will that leave me on 9th August, when Town’s season kicks off again?

First port of call will be my regular space. There are various places that have parking restrictions that are not in force on a Saturday, but at the start of every season they need careful scrutinisation just to make sure those restrictions haven’t been changed to include the weekend.

But if people continue to be excluded from parking elsewhere, there will be more pressure on those limited spaces.

So should I get there ever earlier to beat the rush? Should I park further and further out, in front of someone else’s door?

Two things are sure. I won’t stop watching Swindon Town, and I will fight to the last at attempts to force me to pay to use a car park

But I do know that if I bite the bullet of using a car park, I’ll not pay for any longer stay than necessary. If I arrive in town at 2:50 I reckon I can just about get to the County Ground, watch the match and be back at my car inside two hours. My five hour stay will be no more.

That of course will leave no time for me to spend any money on books, clothes or refreshments in Swindon town centre. The council will make a few quid, but the shops won’t make a penny.

Is that what the authorities want? Is that what the shop owners want?