Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Start For The New Swindon Company?

The news that the Chief Executive of The New Swindon Company is to step down should be a moment to assess exactly what the organisation is for.

The schemes that is came up with were, no doubt, grand, but they have nearly all fallen by the wayside, mostly due to the recession.

But, getting down to the nitty gritty of physically doing things seems to have been the job of Swindon Borough Council. As it says under the 'Local Forum' heading in the 'Blog' section on their site, "delivering regeneration... is a long-term if you don’t hear anything new for a while it does not mean we have stopped."

Under Mr James direction, the opposite seems to have been the case, with each tiny step publicised to within an inch of it's life.

Swindon Centric Says ; Good wishes for whatever Mr James goes onto, but in Swindon, we now need to know the answers to two questions...

1. Who is really in charge of driving and delivering Swindon's rebuilding, The New Swindon Company or Swindon Borough Council?

2. Will Mr James' replacement knuckle down to the painstaking details and only been seen in the press when we have a viable, inspiring plan and cranes on the horizon?

In The Market For A Sturdy Tent

The tented market is to reopen, after several failed attempts at replacement with designs that were very average to say the least.

Previous tenants have voiced concern at the increase in the rental rates compared to what they were paying before the market was closed in late 2007. However as Simon Ormrod (from the management company in charge of the market, Keningtons) says in the Adver article, "we don't just want 50 mobile phone shops." The great thing is, not only is Mr Ormrod talking about a better range of shops, but he's in a position to actually influence that, to a degree.

Anyone else want to become a warrior for taste and standards in the town centre's retail side?

Swindon Centric Says ; It'll be excellent to see the market reopen and hope that there is greater diversity in the shops available, along with the quality of them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Swindon Architecture Nearly Had To Clear Royal Hurdle

As if good architecture doesn't have enough hurdles to clear before being realised in Swindon, this investigation from The Guardian shows that the National Trust headquarters, Heelis, at Churchward nearly didn't exist in the form we know it today, thanks to Prince Charles.

Swindon Centric Says ; Full marks to National Trust for standing their ground and backing the design that was constructed. It's a very welcome addition.

Made In Swindon 4 - Wharf Green Sculpture Returns, Hooray!

When the Wharf Green work started a few years ago, the Blondis sculpture was removed and sort-of forgotten about.

However, the refurbished playground at St Mark's Recreation Ground has had a welcome addition, with the sculpture of the two circus performers installed.

Swindon Centric Says ; Good to see, after the Golden Lion Bridge mural restoration, that this piece of Swindon's art has also been retained and restored. Could this possibly be a reemergence of Thamesdown Borough Council's art policy in the 70s and 80s, we shall keep looking for further evidence.

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 114

Click here for the original and still the best at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. Lets get the ball rolling, to prevent misunderstanding.

9. They break for tea, no other sport does that, how British.

8. A holiday is to be endured, not enjoyed.

7. You can't be that fashionable on the number 20.

6. No that's legal, but that one, the red one, most certainly isn't.

5. It was a three-course delight with a pile of excellence placed on top.

4. They all rhymed, which was a novelty and really brightened up the meeting.

3. I'm doubling how much I charge now too.

2. I was shoved right up against the wall and it took me ten minutes to get my breath back.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. The waiter practically propositioned me there and then, but I had already called for a fast black, otherwise, who knows?

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tunneling For Accuracy In West Swindon

The Adver gave front page coverage (and rightly so) to the vandalism on the Great Western Main Line at Stratton Green Bridge, where a trainwas seriously damaged by vandals placing steel reinforced blocks across the 'Up' line.

Later in the story, Mr Jackson-Haines, Operations Manager at Network Rail is mentioned as informing the paper about the £50,000 cost of removing graffiti from tunnels near Blagrove.

But, there aren't any tunnels at Blagrove, there's several bridges.

Swindon Centric Says ; I'm not sure which is worse, a newspaper getting the term wrong, or someone from Network Rail getting fuzzy on the differences between tunnels and bridges.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Conservatives Motorist Vote-Winning, Veering All Over The Road

Another day, another car-related story from the road-obsessed Borough Council.

After spinning the possibility of cutting the car parking charges in two town centre locations, the council confirmed it. They then however, have deferred, until today, deciding on changes to residents parking in streets off Commercial Road.

Rather like CSI : Crime Scene Investigation, the council then spun off the same story to a different location and former mayor, Mike Bawden called for cuts in the car parking charges for Old Town.

But cracks have appeared in the plans for cuts, with Councillor Nick Martin asking where the money will come from to pay for it.

Swindon Centric Says ; Couldn't they use the vast amount of money they claim to have saved by closing the Groundwell Park & Ride?

Swindon Centric Equation : Closing Park & Ride + Cutting Town Centre Car Park Charges ÷ Changing Residents Parking Permits = Integrated Transport Policy.

Reporting Could Do With A Little Guidance

Kudos to the Adver for being one of the few to cover the story of Jan Gibson and her guide dog Dipper.

Swindon Centric Says ; Perhaps such a positive story could have been put higher up in the priority stakes, rather than on page eleven? But, credit for covering it all the same.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 113

Click here for the original and still the best at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. It was a threatening message, wrapped in a lemon drizzle cake.

9. We are bound to get caught up in the whole furore.

8. You speak as if you have authority, but you know that you know nothing, right?

7. Huge organic onions on special offer, I'm there!

6. Pixie Lott, the most un-rock and roll name in history, ever.

5. My hopes are high, he's bought a ring.

4. Don't give me that rubbish, you know that he's letting another four of us go.

3. It's exact change only, or you lose an eye.

2. Futurama is coming back, I'm so excited.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. I think that the news reporting on exams getting easier, has gotten easier.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses (Week Before) Last Week ; 112

Click here for the original and still the best at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. It's an old Motown record.

9. It's gathered like moss in a crevice.

8. The fresh start starts... here, NOW!

7. The route terminates when the road runs out.

6. They use to say 'keep calm, carry on', I long to bring it back.

5. Don't be patronised, but Jane that's not right.

4. 18 delays so far this morning.

3. I whacked her in the ankles with the doors, I laughed like Sid James.

2. Shove your TravelPass where the sun don't shiny, sweetie.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. Jazz and drinks, we were the youngest people there, it was like a musical version of Cocoon.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 111

Click here for the original and still the best at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. I wasn't invested in the characters enough.

9. I would agree with you in the sense that you are wrong.

8. He went to my school and is still a prick.

7. He can't drink alcohol anymore, so he's taken up snuff.

6. Four-pounds ten, but I've rounded it up to a fiver.

5. They promised to me they'd report back.

4. These ones rattle like a haunted horse and carriage.

3. Don't you dare think you can steal from me in a romantic way.

2. The new season is starting soon, hoorah!

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. Oh look, here comes the walking, talking shopper-without-portfolio.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

University At Coate? No! Houses? Maybe Next Time...

As Komadori has made clear, the decision to refuse planning permission for the area next to Coate Water shows how that a University on the site won't happen. But it appears the Secretary of State is quite taken with the houses idea ;

The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that… the appeal proposals have the potential to deliver high quality housing,… make a meaningful contribution to identified housing needs and are in a suitable location in principle for an urban extension. He gives significant weight to this factor.

It needs to be clear that Swindon Borough Council's objections were the ones that were agreed with by the Secretary of State, rather than the objections from the campaigners. They need to regroup and get ready for a new application for housing from another developer which is bound to come at some point and take any proposal to pieces and prod it in a forensic manner.

Swindon Centric Says ; Praise where praise is due, well done Swindon Borough Council on their work to show the holes in this proposal and congratulations to the campaigners.

Now, tomorrow's story will be the launching of a coherent plan by Swindon Borough Council to build a university within the town centre. Won't it?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Answer Lies In The Lanterns

There were no aliens in the sky above Pinehurst, they were Chinese lanterns, what a surprise.

Swindon Centric Says ; Can we upgrade to seeing aliens walking around the town, like they do in Bournemouth?

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Answer May Be In the Skies, But Not The Statistics

As Komadori has posted, there's no evidence to back-up the headline 'Pinehurst People Feel Safe - Survey' by citing 38 out of 55 returned questionnaires from a small part of a larger area of town.

If the people of Pinehurst have anything to fear for certain, it's the UFOs above the area.

Swindon Centric Says ; STOP PRESS! This rumour just in - The UFOs are chinese lanterns fashioned out of unreturned questionnaires and launched by residents.

One For Your Links

The Broad Street Area Community Council website is a no-nonsense page, featuring all news filtered and presented that's relevant to the area.

Details include local events, planning applications and the minutes from police meetings.

Swindon Centric Says ; If you live in the Broad Street area, this should be one of your go-to sites.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 110

Click here for the original and still the best at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. He took me to one side, the other side was occupied.

9. Don't do the obvious, do the strange.

8. It's a ghost bus, there's never anyone on it, not even a driver.

7. Stop picking at it, it'll get worse.

6. Jordan's got swine flu, poor thing.

5. I'm a petite size 9.

4. Making anything rhyme with Malcolm isn't easy.

3. I have half an hour before they threaten me again.

2. The sandwich is toast.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. Something just fell off the bus, just above the driver's neck!

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Caution : Unmapped Road Ahead

Swindon switched off it's fixed speed cameras yesterday because the Borough Council doesn't feel the £320,000 it spends per year is value for money for five cameras.

Wiltshire Police will still monitor motorists with mobile units and speed guns.

The money is to be used instead for other strategies to improve and maintain road safety... but even the council aren't sure what they are yet. “We believe there are better ways we can reduce the accidents on our roads than just through the use of speed cameras" , says Councillor Greenhalgh, but then doesn't say what methods will be employed instead.

Councillor Greenhalgh then goes on to let us know how much he doesn't like speed humps either. Judging by the speed hump issue in Freshbrook (they are to be gotten rid of, as reported in the latest issue of The Link Magazine), he seems to be well on his way to winning the votes of motorists for his party nationally at the next election.

The drive for popularity and votes for the Conservatives is reenforced by Councillor Greenhalgh's comment in the Council press release on the issue, "In Swindon we are developing a reputation for challenging the status quo and being at the forefront of new thinking." That sounds like they're excited at getting all this attention from the other children at school. Golly!

Swindon Centric Says ; The press release even states that they will "continue to work on a new road safety strategy."
Wouldn't it have been logical to have a new safety strategy in place before switching off the cameras? Once again, it seems joined-up-thinking has passed Swindon councillors by, at a great, unchecked speed.

Bar the work by Wiltshire Constabulary and their speeding equipment, Swindon's road safety strategy appears to be, 'we'll keep our fingers crossed and keep a sharp eye out'.