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Act to stop poor parking

The report “Bad parking can put lives at risk” (November 13) gave a clear account of the serious problems caused by inconsiderate and selfish drivers.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue has been forced to launch a campaign to highlight the difficulties it has accessing emergencies due to badly parked cars. I assume ambulances answering emergency calls must experience similar problems.

Why do those who have the powers to prevent this ongoing problem persistently fail to do so?

About three years ago Police and Crime Commissioner Angus MacPherson and leader of Swindon Borough Council David Renard extolled the virtues of the new Swindon Town Centre Hub.

This project was set up as part of the One Swindon Partnership and aimed to give greater collaboration between the council, police and other partners.

The public were promised this arrangement would encourage co-operation between services, improve their interaction and drive up standards. It was supposed to improve response times and resolve community problems such as anti-social behaviour, parking enforcement, street cleaning and community safety.

It is in everyone’s interest to resolve bad parking problems. Apart from creating obstructions for the life-saving fire and ambulance services it can create severe dangers in areas such as school safety zones. It is especially detrimental to the safety of the disabled, the elderly and young children but also affects the safety of everyone else. It creates social problems by preventing people from leaving or accessing their properties. It prevents permit-holding residents from parking in residential zones.

To commissioner MacPherson and coun Renard I would say, fine words and good intentions alone do not deliver. You have legislation on your side. You claim to have put the resources in place to resolve this problem. You now need to show commitment and turn your words and resources into action.

K KANE, Wharf Road, Wroughton

Alternative to CCTV

I attended the meeting on Friday, at Justin Tomlinson’s office, to discuss options for improving driver behaviour and safety on Thamesdown Drive.

The borough council presented a plan to employ CCTV, initially, at the Orbital Junction. This would be monitored remotely in a bank control room, with footage only being recovered if there was an accident. Most visitors I spoke to after the meeting had a range of adjectives including: laughable, pointless, utterly inadequate, waste of £20,000 per junction, pathetic and Mickey Mouse!

We put to MP Justin Tomlinson, Police Commissioner Angus MacPherson, and Cllrs David Renard, Toby Elliott and Gary Perkins the concept of having a limited number of the latest technology Truvelo D Cam red light/speed cameras, additionally supplemented with dummies, allowing switching of the live cameras. The capital cost would then be affordable in the CCTV budget.

These would operate 24 hours so also moderate some of the night time ‘racing’. They described the conundrum that the borough council would have to install, maintain and administer any fines collection, whilst the Government pockets all the income. The borough councillors said they would support this proposal if the administrative and maintenance cost could at least be retained (they have developer contributions to fund the capital cost.

The only safety benefit they could scrape up was the potential deterrent effect of camera signs on the light stands… but I pointed out that as soon as people realise there is no possibility of any prosecution however fast or however badly they drive, it would only impact a small number of visitors to the town. I compared it to bus gate cameras, where their effectiveness relies on people knowing they will be fined. If they drove through and never saw a fine, they would quickly continue to drive through with impunity.

The overarching safety benefit of the modern, red light/speed camera is that the whole ethos of driving on Thamesdown Drive would change with such an installation. A new, sensible, more relaxed “go with the flow” mentality would quickly develop if it became pointless to pursue the historic aggressive driving style.

We agreed to have further discussions with the parties concerned, and Justin Tomlinson agreed to put a case to Transport Minister Chris Grayling, that revenue collected could have an element ‘ring fenced’ to cover the actual cost of maintenance and the actual cost of fines collection. I suppose its watch this space?

JOHN STOOKE, Haydon End, Havisham Drive, Swindon

The battle over Brexit

Observing the traditional two minutes silence on November 11 led me to ponder: if 1940 and the Battle of Britain was our finest hour, Brexit must be our lowest…the words of Hugo Dixon of ‘In Facts’ came to mind: “As a textbook case of a badly-governed country, Brexit is exemplary. Consider its nine elements:

1. The most far-reaching strategic national decision in well over a century;

2. Decided on the spur of the moment;

3. As a manoeuvre to solve a split inside the governing party;

4. And adopted on the basis of a paper-thin majority;

5. In an unprecedented referendum without rules or criteria.

6. It has since been pursued in a wild frenzy, month after month;

7. With no agreement, inside the government, on its aims;

8. With no clarity on what could be obtained from the EU;

9. And with no explanation to the voters of the purposes or the end-result.”

In short, a primer of political recklessness and incompetence. We shall be paying a heavy price for it, for many years to come.

During the last year the Government has had to be dragged before the courts to make it behave constitutionally by courageous citizens, only one of whom, Gina Miller, stayed the course. The others dropped after months of intimidation and death threats. The Government lost, twice. The judges were displayed on the front page of the right wing populist Daily Mail as ‘Enemies of the People’, their private lives attacked, earning them death threats too.

This week, May will try to enshrine our leave date in law, as she rushes through the Repeal Bill, denying our MPs any say in thousands of future decisions in the greatest theft of our parliamentary democracy since King Henry VIII’s time. This is like a fiancé rushing his bride to the altar lest she has time to change her mind.

In 1940 we stood isolated against our enemies on the continent, an island of relative political sanity and governance. Today we stand isolated against our continental friends, an island of political insanity and poor governance!

STEVE ROUSE, Swindon for Europe

Yobs have law on side

We are all subject to anti social behaviour these days and many times from brats that wouldn’t have dared say anything to an adult – let alone challenge one – a couple of generations ago.

I was walking along a footpath behind North Swindon / Red House a couple of days ago when I had to push through a group of four little mouthy idiots who had blocked the entire path with their bikes whilst surrounded by vast green open spaces. The local fad seems to be ‘block a path and gob off to anyone who tries to get through’.

Now this is the annoying thing: I could have said or done something to move them out of the way. I could have shown them what it’s like when a fully grown adult isn’t scared or intimidated by them. But then I’d have probably been filmed by them.

If I’d tried to push through them I’d have been accused of assault. I’d likely to have been arrested for breaching their ‘rights’. Eventually the obese little oaf who seemed to be their leader moved out of the way without any problem but then I’m an 18 stone skinhead. I doubt they would have done it for a small gran walking her dog.

We are sick of having silly little boys acting like hard men because they know the law is on their side. We are sick of social services excusing these spiteful brats and crying out to help them. We are sick of having to avoid certain areas because groups of puny mouthy kids have been allowed to run wild.

The law is on their side and not ours and I want to know why.


Trouble with stamps

May I warn my fellow readers about a trap I fell into at the Post Office in WH Smith yesterday?

I still send greetings cards and with Christmas looming I decided it was time to buy festive stamps. I also needed a birthday card, so I thought I’d pop into Smith’s and kill both birds with one stone.

Having joined the Post Office queue, I spotted a notice instructing those needing stamps to use one of the digital terminals, so I ordered 50 second class stamps and six first class from the robot assistant. The machine did NOT issue me with the 2017 Christmas issue stamps I expected: instead it printed a total of 56 sticky labels! Call me old-fashioned, but when I am promised stamps, I expect the traditional Rowland Hill variety.

I informed the hovering assistant that I’d ordered stamps and was not happy with labels, but he offered no solution.

I was on my way out when it occurred to me that I was in credit with the post office to the tune of £31.90, and perhaps they would honour this in the form of Christmas stamps.

Cashier number two told me she did have a supply of Christmas stamps but would not exchange them for labels. I asked her how to complain, and she directed me to the manager at till six. After five minutes in that queue I asked the manager to supply what I’d come in for 20 minutes ago, which bless him he did.

I understand that this is the 21st century and we have to move with the times, but please let’s do so in an open and honest way. Directing those of us who want Christmas stamps to a machine that doesn’t issue them is in my view dishonest, and I do hope that the organization formerly known as Consignia will see my point and change its advice to customers accordingly.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

NEIL MARTYN, Fitzroy Road, Swindon

A lack of patients

I recently had cause to attend the diabetic eye clinic in Swindon’s newest health centre at Whale Bridge. As is my custom I arrived early and was just about to take my seat when the technician started calling out names, imagine my surprise when mine was called, especially as I wasn’t supposed to be there.

After a short question and answer session to confirm I was who I claimed to be, drops were put in my eyes and I was despatched to the waiting area until they had done their work. Twenty minutes later I returned to the clinic, had images taken of both eyes and was ‘set free’. As I left the very nice technician said to me “Do you realise you have left one minute before your allocated appointment time?”

The reason for my speedy treatment was that seven patients had failed to turn up for their appointments that morning. Doubtless some would have genuine reasons, other maybe not.

It is so easy to be a critic of the NHS (sometimes with good reason) but we don’t help ourselves when a clinical professional and their expensive equipment is left unused due to non attendance.

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Legion’s vital service

I keep reading quotes in the letters page saying the Legion keeps adding names for service men and women to remember.

What we all must remember is the Legion is active all year round, not just supporting our service men and women in war and conflicts for a few weeks before and after November 11 but in peace time as well, 24/7, 365 days of the year.

I agree with Des Morgan’s comments whole heartedly – you will never stop wars there will always be the bully state that needs standing up to. I was on the Forces Reunited site last night and on that site there are names of men and women who died carrying out those peace time duties all around the world.

The British Legion is one of the first on the scene offering what ever help is needed for loved ones back in the UK. It’s a charity to help those both in uniform and the families who are the hingepin of every service man or woman.

JOHN L Crook, Haydon Wick, Swindon