Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses (Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last, Last) Last Week ; 244

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

10. He has the charm of a Lib Dem front-bencher.

9. Wearing pink socks does not make you wild.

8. She stared the entire time, never seen somebody that thin before.

7. I'll buy you a coffee, I haven't the money for a tequila shot.

6. Can you get blue tomatoes?

5. You have a smaller interest in Sally than I thought.

4. Should have left it at home, I told you, didn't I tell you?

3. I'm not interested, just buy me a pair of jeans and be done with it.

2. Does it go to Liden? Does it, I thought Liden was near Oxford.

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

1. Don't even reckon on me turning up, I'd just come in, smack two people from the main office in the face, take all the free drinks I'm allowed, and walk out.

Overheard something we've missed? Then email or leave a comment and your phrase could make it onto next weeks list!

Swindon's Very Own Shock Doctrine

The stateside version of this, with some variances, covered on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show

If your streetlights have been broken for an age and the graffiti on your walls has now got moss growing on it, it could because of Swindon Councillors subscribing to the 'Shock Doctrine'.

The theory by-which governments push through major neo-conservative policies (privatisation, liberalisation of constraints on industry, simplifying government processes, etc) when a citizenry is in 'shock' from a disaster has and is happening in Swindon.

The disaster? The financial crisis, the credit crunch, the following recession, stalled recovery and now double-dip recession.

We're constantly being told, and have been, by the ruling councillors at Swindon Borough Council that there is not any money for basic services in the way they have been provided before.

How has this policy been followed? There's so many to mention -

- The privatisation of Swindon Commercial Services (the works department of the Council, now run to make a profit and wholly owned by Swindon Borough Council as an investment interest).

- The spinning-off of adult social care in Swindon to another organisation.

- The cutting back of hundreds of front-line staff in Swindon Borough Council, from libraries to park rangers.

- The administration of benefits to Swindon residents now provided by Capita, not Swindon Borough Council.

- The attempted privatisation of Swindon's entire assets of it's Council Housing stock. This was prevented after a vote by council house tenants.

- To a derived point, the Wi-Failed scheme. One of the numerous reasons given for the scheme was that the council now had to look at ways of producing revenue (making money).

- The latest, the transfer of green spaces to house-building companies.

- The transfer of the Oasis leisure centre and a chunk of land at North Star to a private investment company to refurbish the centre and build a snow dome and other leisure facilities, to be operated by them and not Swindon Borough Council.

Swindon Centric Says ; The constant banging of this drum of 'if we don't reduce our deficit it'll come and attack you in a lonely alleyway' is spin, as Swindon Borough Council seem happy-enough to run up record debts building infrastructure at Wichelstowe.

Why are Swindon Borough Councillors happy to spend money on easy things like roads and paths to tempt house builders, but won't work hard to come up with a detailed, costed, long-term, council-funded plan to rebuild assets?

Have our councillors become lazy and unknowledgeable? For Swindon, it should be renamed The Shock and Lazy Doctrine.

Swindon Gives Away The Crown Jewels

Is giving a private company Swindon's Oasis Leisure Centre, in return for it's refurbishment and substantial expansion the only option, or an austerity-cloaked privatisation?

The plan for a Snowdome at the Oasis North Star area is not new and the fact it's reached this far is great news. But is the part of the deal that the company concerned, Morai Capital Investments, will be allowed to build this leisure addition, in return for full modernisation of the Oasis, too high a price to pay?

And the Swindon Card you may own? That won't be usable at the Oasis any more.

In the same way that the street light switch-off was spun that it would save us substantial amounts of money in the long-term, what the real story consists of, is our local authority getting out of having to worry about the town's infrastructure. The 'saving' councillors talked about concerning the lights was actually the cost of replacing the lights, as the areas in question included street lights which were rapidly approaching the end of their working lives. The spin about the lights being in areas 'it wasn't thought they would be much needed', or the environmental benefits, was just that, spin.

A 'get-it-off-our-books-as-quickly-as-you-can' attitude.

Swindon Centric Says ; Were the options of direct capital investment from Swindon Borough Council even looked at? Did the council even research taking out loans to modernise the town's assets? If they did, are these documents available for us to see please?

Time for a Freedom of Information Request maybe?

The Mayor of Simpleton

 How strange it would be if the Queen was to vote in a Commons or Lords situation, shaking the foundations of the system.

On a local level, that's about to happen in Swindon.

The Conservative Group have a majority of one in the recent local council elections, which means in the event of a tie, the Mayor (which is largely a ceremonial position, despite the selected mayor being an elected councillor) will, like-never-before, be called upon to cast the deciding vote. The new Mayor, Councillor Mick Bray (Conservative, of the Lydiard and Freshbrook ward) may find it increasingly difficult to justify his position as he votes on issues in the council chamber one moment, then remains non-political whilst grinning for the cameras and having cake at his official mayor duties the next.

 Swindon Centric Says ; We live in interesting times.