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Help them on the ladder

Swindon is enjoying a boom in house prices, says your article on January 4.

The average house price in Swindon is now £231,000 and this is a rise of 7.8% over the last year.

This means that during 2017 house prices were rising in Swindon at the rate of £1,400 per month.

This is great news for those who own their own homes. But it is not such good news for young people looking to buy or rent.

The millennials are being pushed out of the housing market by high prices.

The government must do more to help the young generation make a good start in life.

Steve Halden, Beaufort Green, Swindon

Driving me barking mad

As much as I love dogs, the number of owners who leave theirs barking for hours on end is infuriating.

Some owners think nothing of going to work for 8 to 12 hours whilst their dog howls and yaps non-stop.

Of course, unless the neighbours complain they have no idea what a nuisance their pet is because they aren’t there to hear it.

You have people who leave their dogs out in the garden barking continuously as soon as there’s a bit of dry weather. Summer days can be ruined by the never-ending noise.

People who see no problem with waking neighbours up at 5.30am by letting their dog bark outside. Others think a dog yapping at 11.30pm or later is fine. It is a form of noise pollution every bit as anti-social as loud music.

And before you ultra-militant dog owners write in to complain, I understand it’s not the dog’s fault. And yes, I understand that barking is what dogs do.

But my car has a very loud and annoying alarm. Beeping is what car alarms do. It’s not their fault either. Yet if I left mine going for hours on end day after day near your house disturbing you relentlessly I don’t think you’d be quite so understanding.

Roger Lack, North Swindon

Think of your priorities

Police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson asks whether the people of Wiltshire would pay an extra £1 per month to ‘protect’ the police force (SA 4 January).

Such a question is what one might call ‘loaded’ as it presupposes the police force needs protecting and that local taxation is the only way to ensure the county’s force is able to function this despite the fact that currently a band D property pays £14 per month for policing which would rise to £15 per month.

The issue of funding for the police has been brought about by changes at national level and decisions being made to spend taxpayer contributions on projects and causes which are seen and presented as being more important. HS2 may be an interesting project but whether or not it is worth spending £43 billion (and rising) to achieve an aim so different from what was originally envisaged is a moot point.

The reality is that no matter what politicians say, there is no shortage of money in the national exchequer; what there is, is a misapplication of the money they have.

National Government spends over £13bn on foreign aid (yes, that old chestnut) and guess what, a lot of that money is spent on establishing and training police forces in some very dodgy countries where salaries are being paid to non existent people.

DfID defends its spending programme citing the national interest, whereas i would prefer we spent the money at home in the local interest.

However, Angus chooses to play a very canny hand of cards and draws the reader to the conclusion that the money raised in the precept is spent on the police. It is and it isn’t.

Perhaps Angus should look closer to home and consider his own spending priorities.

A good start would be to stop sending £23,700 per year to The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, a trades union type lobbying body for the 40+ PCCs.

Another area he should consider is his role as a bountiful provider to various charities and good causes. After all, it’s not his money he dispenses, it’s ours!

Of course charities need support and by and large they receive it – when the public are persuaded of a real need. It is a fact that Wiltshire residents are very generous givers to charity.

However, and it cannot be denied, some charities are simply businesses operating as charitable undertakings with managers and even fundraising staff receiving salaries while relying on volunteers to keep their costs down.

Angus closes his appeal with a threat – so unpleasant but seemingly the way to go these days. “Without this increase Wiltshire Police will have to look at further reductions in officers and staff.”

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Tell us the truth on NHS

Your journalist’s article on GWH’s year of debt is something our politicians and the media pay little attention to it seems.

So perhaps it’s about time that someone started telling us the truth and the whole truth as to why every single NHS Trust whose hospitals were built on the PFI scheme by Gordon Brown and George Osborne are now bankrupt, and as a result are in the realms of being no better than Third World hospitals.

For proof of this statement one has only to delve into the internet to prove that every single one of them could have been built far more cheaply by loans from any High Street bank.

Scandalous, but it does not end there either.

This Government brought in legislation which allowed politicians from both sides of the house to start private companies to supply goods and services to the NHS, eg: supplying private nursing to the NHS at sky high rates. Just one example of the private sector ripping off the NHS.

Any wonder Mr Morrison as to why the NHS is not what is was when you worked there.

It’s time someone stood up and started telling us the truth.

Ian Hunt, Swindon

Figures don’t add up

So our council is going to save millions of pounds and still look after vulnerable people (David Renard’s column, January 4).

These things don’t seem to equate to me. He also goes on to state we have a “number of exciting project in the pipeline, which will provide a lasting legacy for the town we love”.

Another of these exciting project is no doubt the North Star indoor ski slope, at a cost of £270 million.

I seem to remember they had one of these down not far from the M25. It didn’t get much use and they were in area more densely populated than Swindon.

Is this another idea like the museum and art gallery, which we need?

The answer to my last missive on the was that it would have a cafe, dining area, conference hall, bringing in money. Of course he doesn’t have any figures for how much they will be bringing in.

All these grandiose schemes, like the art gallery and museum and North Star ski slope, are going to cost an absolute fortune whichever way you look at it.

The capital for these schemes runs into many millions, being paid back over what length of time?

We have all seen how many millions of pounds the GWH is being charged in interest. Is Swindon going to be lumbered with yet even more astronomic debts?

David Collins, Blake Crescent, Swindon

We must protect history

It was with great sadness that we saw the last edition of the Swindon Heritage Magazine come out in December last year.

It has for the last five years been a shining light on the history and background of this town we live in and will be sadly missed by all of those that care about this town of ours.

But we have to move on and the good news is that there is still much happening and groups out there for us to indulge in.

The Blue Plaque programme continues, with the next one going on to the wall of the swimming baths in Milton Road very soon, somewhere that many of us learned to swim as children.

Chiseldon, Rodbourne, Shrivenham, and Highworth all have history groups and in Swindon we have the Swindon Society and local library studies.

In the last year or so we have seen a number of new books printed, including one of the role of Swindonians in the first World War by Mark Sutton and a book by Katherine Cole which honours every man and women that paid the supreme price in the Second World War (Roll of Honour 1939 - 1945 ).

Swindon can be justly proud of our part in those wars.

In about a month’s time a new 160-page book called A Swindon Time Capsule will hit the streets with the help of a £10,000 donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Then towards the end of the year (or very soon after) we will have two new books; one from John Stooke (he of Camra and the Rising Tun real ale fame), who will publish a book that looks at every pub in the Swindon area that is no longer with us, drawing on the work done by David Backhouse. I look forward to that one, many of which us older ones have spent a happy hour or two in.

Then there is in the pipeline a book on Swindon street names by Darryl of the local Library Studies group, which will bring up to date Peter Sheldon’s and Richard Tomkins’ history of streets published in 1979 and therefore well out of date by now. Every street name tells a story - the Goddards have 15 named after them, whilst the men of the railways in Swindon have about a dozen.

There is much to be done in Swindon if we are to protect our heritage and, from what we have seen from the council over the years, it’s no good relying on them so it has to come from the bottom up, as seen by the publication of Legacy of a Rag and Bone Man by the Eastcott Community Organisation, with the help of a Lottery fund injection. This man has not even been remembered by the council in any way yet he did more than anyone else to preserve and protect Swindon’s heritage by being its greatest benefactor and the first man to be given the freedom of the town in 1920.

It is only by learning from the past that we can make the right decsions in the future. Join one of the many trusts and history groups that we have in Swindon, like the Canal Trust, Richard Jefferies, Mechanics Institute, Swindon Wild Life, or any other and help them to make this a better place to live in.

Roy Cartwright, Covingham