So the council’s ‘battle to save Coate’ has cost us £226,000.

Hang on a minute – is this the same council who, in the early part of this century, reclassified the area around Coate from ‘rural buffer’ to ‘urban expansion’?

Is this the same council who, when many of us, including Chiseldon Parish Council, queried this move, told us that it was a technicality and it didn't really matter?

Is this the same council whose then leader, Mike Bawden, went on record in The Guardian in March 2003, claiming credit for brokering the deal with the University of Bath in which they would pay nothing for the land?

Is this the same Mike Bawden who claimed at a South Cluster meeting last October that he’d always been against development at Coate?

Sorry, Swindon Borough Council, but this £226,000 is money wasted through your own doing. Because you initially changed the designation of that land, ignoring all protests, you then made it effectively impossible in planning terms to stop development there.

You were even complicit in allowing the land to be described as Commonhead, using the term in your own documents. What a vote of confidence that was!

It was only when, belatedly, you realised the strength of local opposition to despoiling the jewel in Swindon’s crown that you made any serious effort and then it was merely to reduce the impact of development there, firstly by putting in strict planning conditions, then most recently by persisting in including Commonhead as you still call it, as ‘suitable for the development’ in the Local Plan – which, incidentally, has still not passed the final stage of its so-called consultation.

Yes, you recommended refusal earlier this year, against your own officers’ recommendation, but the die was cast when the land was re-designated in the first place, so your case for refusal was inevitably weak, made weaker as I describe below.

Not only has the council and its leaders been, shall we say, disingenuous (what happened to Rod Bluh’s promise of ‘no university, no houses’), it has also been incompetent. In a fairly key session of the recent inquiry, the inspector asked why officers had not raised concerns about traffic congestion on the minor roads around Chiseldon, Badbury and Liddington.

Representatives including myself, from both those parishes, pointed out exactly those concerns had been raised by both in their parish plans which had been submitted to the council fairly early on in the whole process. When Chiseldon asked for feedback on its plan, officers were unable to locate it (a copy had been sent to every borough councillor, plus some for council officers. We sent more. Amazingly, when officers briefed their – our – barrister for the inquiry, still no reference was made to our previously expressed concerns.

So Coate has become a debacle along with Croft, the Locarno and the Mechanics Institute. No wonder the independent candidates in the recent elections did so well in Chiseldon & Lawn and in Old Town.

Chris Barry The Bramptons Swindon

Honour helpers

There are huge numbers of older people in the community who do tremendous work volunteering their time to help others.

WRVS, in partnership with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, has launched a search to find “Diamond Champions”, volunteers over the age of 60 who make a real difference to the lives of older people and whose efforts deserve to be celebrated.

Sixty people will be shortlisted from the South West and from that shortlist a judging panel will select 10 people from each region in the UK to join 70 others at a royal residence, for the opportunity to meet their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in the autumn.

We are asking people to nominate older people they think should be recognised for their work in the community by logging on to our website at

Steven Hargreaves WRVS Head of Services for the South West WRVS Cardiff Gate Beck Court Cardiff Gate Business Park Cardiff CF23 8RP

Thanks for aid

Animal Aid would like to thank the people of Swindon for their generosity in raising £118.35 at a street collection on Saturday, May 19.

The money will help fund our peaceful campaigns and our important educational work on all aspects of animal cruelty.

For more information on how to prevent animal cruelty, please call Animal Aid on 01732 364546.

Mrs M Harrison Animal Aid Collection Co-ordinator Toothill Swindon

STFC is wrong

What in the name of god are STFC thinking about, signing Luke McCormick?

If Swindon Town think they are a family club then they can think again. How do they think Phil Peak and what’s left of his family feel about this? This family has been wrecked by the selfish and egotistical actions of McCormick. STFC shouldn't even be considering what is good for McCormick.

Why are STFC being supportive of this man? Surely there are people connected with STFC that feel dirty about the whole thing. Does anybody at STFC know what it is like to lose a child? Mr and Mrs Peak have lost both sons. This is something you never get over. For McCormick to have just served three and a half years is a joke.

When is somebody in this country going to stand up for the victims? McCormick should at least serve his full sentence in jail and consider himself very lucky it wasn't more.

I lost my 16 year old son eight years ago to some very dodgy NHS healthcare and it riles me that the people responsible are still able to go about their normal everyday business without a care in the world. Justice wasn’t done then and it’s not being done here.

I’m not a regular at the County Ground but if this man signs for STFC then they won't see me again and probably quite a few others.

Tony McGinn Goldsborough Close Swindon

Lizard spit diet

I wish to alert other readers to a recent discovery: Apparently, if you want to stop eating chocolate, let a lizard dribble all over it. Origin? World News Stockholm, May 16: “A drug derived from the saliva of a monster lizard reduces the craving for food, including chocolate, said researchers after testing it successfully on rats.

“An increasing number of patients suffering from type 2 diabetes are offered a drug called Exenatide, which helps them control their blood sugar. It is derived from a natural substance called exendin-4, obtained from the saliva of the US giant Gila lizard.”

So find yourself a North American Gila Monster, two feet long, venomous, grumpy, and let it dribble all over your food. Still fancy eating? Could this be the ultimate dietary aid? Now why couldn't Weightwatchers come up with this idea?

Greg Dunningham Old Town Swindon

Treaty to blame

The EU Single Market Treaty was designed to suit German industry. This has led to huge trade surpluses for Germany, while conversely Britain, Spain and Greece have suffered from massive trade deficits.

The Single Market Treaty has created vast trade imbalances between EU member states and consequently destroyed the industrial base in many of the less efficient EU countries.

The current problems with the euro currency are just symptoms of this much larger problem created by the EU Single Market Treaty. Even when the current euro currency problems are sorted out, the enormous trade deficits suffered by countries like Britian, Spain and Greece are just not sustainable.

So in the long term the economic problems of Europe will continue because of the damaging effects of the EU Single Market Treaty.

Terry Hayward Burnham Road Swindon