Friday, October 30, 2015

The law of diminishing complaints

Swindon Borough Council is currently slapping itself on the back for the reduction in complaints it's received.

At no point does anyone make reference to the reduction in the size of the council and that implication in the figures.

Pretty much it'll be complaint free, with just one person answering a phone (part-time only of course).

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Grade II* Elephant in the Room

Swindon Borough Council is making more positive noises about the Mechanics' Institute than for a while.

They have once again made it very clear that there is no SBC money to buy it, restore it, or run it.

However the Mechanics' Trust still keeps banging the drum for it being a community-owned and community-operated use.

That's okay then, the thousands of members of the Trust and the vast coffers they've swelled at the Trust, will support their plans.

So how many members and how much money does the always very-vocal Mechanics' Trust has backing them up?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Gone a bit Wonga

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson really isn't having a good time of it at the moment.

Last week it was reported that he had broken parliamentary rules after sharing a draft confidential report with Wonga.

Now the Daily Mirror has reported that references to Wonga have been removed/edited from a four year-old post from his website detailing his success in securing a sponsorship deal for Swindon Supermarine with the payday lender.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing, but the chairman of Supermarine is seething, and quite rightly, at the tone of the article.

Bruce Street Bungle

Have the roadworks at Bruce Street Bridges become a textbook example of how not to do a medium-scale road project.

Yes, and there's lots of evidence to support it.

Swindoncentric has reason to traverser the Bruce Street Bridges nearly every day, often multiple times and at differing times of traffic levels. The Work, on paper sounds pretty straightforward, the removal of the four mini roundabouts and the construction of one main roundabout, with associated pedestrian access. The road has to remain open as the work happens. Difficult? Certainly. Impossible? Not at all.

Delays have been so bad that Thamesdown Transport have had to divert their cross-town services 13 and 14 at some times to avoid crossing Bruce Street bridges from Rodbourne Cheney to Rodbourne (instead diverting along Great Western Way) and have also, in the medium term, altered the 13 and 14 routes to go via Shepperd Street and Station Road rather than the preferred Farnsby Street/Commercial Road and Regent Circus route. The unpredictability of delays caused by the work at Bruce Street Bridges means the timetable is not robust to continue on the Regent Circus route until the work is completed.

Paving or kerb work that had been laid several weeks ago in the morning was witnessed being taken up later that day by the contractors on site. For such an important project, there does not seem to be a large number of contractors on site when you pass by. A report to Swindoncentric was that 5 contractors left the site recently over frustrations of the management of the work they were doing.

Meanwhile, the work was schedule to finish 'October 2015', so there are a few days left to live in hope. Though it will overrun, until March it is believed. Businesses who have the work happening on their doorsteps were given short shrift by Councillor Heenan in last week's Adver when they dared to ask for compensation.

The ticking bomb is exactly how the effect of the closure of Stratton Green Bridge in a few weeks by Network Rail will add to the problems caused to traffic by Bruce Street Bridges. Councillor Heenan assures us that it will be ticketty-boo, so that's alright then. Councillor Heenan also said one of the reasons for the delays had been the amount of unexpected pipes and cables beneath the Bruce Street Bridges site. That seems to be par-for-the-course on most work sites, so it's baffling why this wasn't factored in by even the most basic risk analysis.

It'll be interesting to see a breakdown of the predicted costs of the work and the actual costs of the work afterwards to compare. But we'll have to wait for the work to finish first before that can be done.

And that will be....?

Swindoncentric looks forward to more innovative and vibrant ways that the rest of Great Western Way will be changed and resurfaced in the near future.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 288

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

10. So I Snapchatted Casey and oh my God, he knows all about it.

9. He'd never caught the bus that far before and was a bit worried if there were any back.

8. Don't think that the boss doesn't know what we've been doing, he's waiting for the best moment to tell us both.

7. Hayley thinks she'll lose that weight by December, she's got a big job on her hands.

6. I remember that song playing in the pub and the snowing coming down and being so happy.

5. She can't be dead though, what are they going to do for the rest of the series?

4. It's unusual to think we use to go out, then Daniel came along.

3. Did he ever return those kettlebells to you?

2. He's a confident little twat, wrongly no-doubt.

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

1. I've got 2 more return trips on this, then, I'm off and nothing's going to stop me!

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Guess Who?

With Swindon Borough Council CEO Gavin Jones leaving the post in January, the question now is, who will succeed him?

Will it be someone parachuted in from outside, or will SBC promote one of their own (a head of a board, or commissioner?).

One thing is certain, the 'rebuilding' of SBC that Jones is said to have oversaw (which also saw the privatisation of Swindon Commercial Services, and then, the un-privatisation of SCS, bringing it back into SBC before the paint was dry on the new logos, to save money, then bits of Capita that were brought back in-house by SBC, and, of course, the massively successful vanishing of £400,000 in the failed wi-fi Digital City project) will be ready for the the new boss to oversee the dismantling of SBC with it's proposed parish plan.

So who will it be?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 287

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

10. I haven't watched it for a while, it's good though.

9. Chicken or beef?

8. Me and my boyfriend dressed up as a T.A.R.D.I.S.

7. I hear that they allow you to get your bits out in front of the crowd, but you can't touch yourself.

6. I've got the third album, downloaded the fifth but have no wish to even hear the fourth.

5. It's not just a part of your foot, it's a medical condition.

4. She was going to make a cake, but then thought better of it and let Tesco take care of it to avoid crying children.

3. No, it doesn't fit under the bridge, you have to go down and round first.

2. They brought me back a t-shirt saying 'it's all geek to me'.

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

1. I bought poppadoms, but they gave me two for free anyway.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Poverty Stalks Swindon - But We're Better Than Average

A new national report on poverty deprivation shows the following summary details about Swindon :

  • Swindon has less poverty than the national average.

  • Relative poverty levels haven't changed much since 2010.

  • The most deprived area in Swindon is Penhill and Upper Stratton ward.

  • Swindon's relative poverty is most severe in the areas of education, skills and training.

All of this can be addressed in one fell swoop with a University of Swindon (or a a substantial regional partnership campus for another name).

Swindon Borough Council is trying to make it happen.

We need an all-out effort by everyone, SBC, MPs, heads of business, teachers and lecturers and the people of Swindon.

The Conservatives seem be rebranding themselves 'blue collar tories', maybe a populace with low levels of education, skills and training is easier politically to manage than that of the alternative?

Any population with low levels of education, skills and training will be better to handle from a politicians point of view, an educated town is a powerful town with informed residents who will challenge it's councillors and MPs.

Now that really would be a town of salubrious et industria.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 286

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

10. Happily married for longer than the last two wives.

9. Stubborn and more lazy just as you'd think.

8. They couldn't have made a better choice if they're after no imagination at all in their strategy.

7. The film made it out that there was more about her character, but she just seemed to spend the whole time weeping.

6. I didn't mean to offend.

5. Oh my days, he was walking around with it stuck on him all evening.

4. What do you think he would say if he knew about us?

3. We're on time and Sally won't expect this at all.

2. All he's ever tried to do is try to help you.

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

1. You'll end up on Spice, collapsed in a doorway night after night if you carry on.

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

Monday, October 05, 2015

From a Rotten Borough to Rotten Parishes

The proposals by Swindon Borough Council to create parish councils to cover the entirety of the Borough of Swindon should be exposed for the rotten idea it is.

After the regular rises of council tax by the Labour administration, the Conservatives in Swindon have made constant political capital ever since that they have not raised council tax since 2010.

The ever increasing (and shifting) demands on SBC, namely adult social care, make this 'no increase ever' position, look increasingly at odds with helping those most in need.

Rather than bite the bullet and be brave enough to admit that being responsible means paying a bit more, SBC has proposed to hive off most local authority jobs to new parish councils, allowing them to be seen as the bad guys, with the separate cost of the parish handily itemised in the SBC council tax bill.

The result? SBC continues to 'operate' (but what will it be left to do?) at 0% increase in council tax, therefore allowing Swindon Tories to save face (and campaign on it in future elections), whilst being seen to give power back to more 'responsive' parish councils (because if they're small, they must be effective right? Because in the true-blue handbook, small is beautiful, especially when talking about government). The parish councils, which will no doubt be campaigned for and possibly filled by Labour, seen as one step by them to regain control of SBC, who will then take all the flak and blame for the increase in council tax to pay for the new parishes.

In one perfect move, Swindon's Tories are seen to give power back in a micro-devolution, whilst making Swindon Labour shoulder the rise in council tax to pay for the parishes and at the same time, getting a load of SBC services off 'their' books.

Are Swindon Tories about to oversee the final dismantling of Swindon Borough Council? Seems so, and they're going to get Labour to pay for it!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 285

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

10. It'll ruin the aesthetic.

9. I know you love danger.

8. This is totally you, this hat.

7. There's only salads, nothing else.

6. Before we think about anything else, I'm so excited about this weekend.

5. If you can just calm down for a minute, I'll see if I can help you.

4. That's such a nasty thing to do, did you not see this coming with your amazing foresight?

3. I think I'd remember having a boyfriend like that.

2. I like a surprise, but not when there's a shock.

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

1. I'm having this baby and I don't care if people don't know about it, do you get me?

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