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We’ll miss Maurice

Maurice Fanning, who recently died, was a lovely man, a connected councillor, a helpful citizen, and seriously good fun.

An example of how connected he was as a borough councillor and how happily adventurous he was as a person came when, as Mayor of Swindon, he visited Lower Shaw Farm. Where the previous Mayor had admired the children at play from the comfort of his limo, saying that he would rather not get out and muddy his shoes, Maurice not only got out of the mayoral motor, he joined the children in the playbarn and had a great swing, from the highest platform, on the farm’s famous rope swing. It was a very daring and delightful thing for a middle-aged dignitary to do!

As a local businessman, Maurice proved very helpful too. He took it upon himself to come to the aid of the Swindon Festival of Literature. In its early days, the festival was not only short of funds but also uncertain how it would get a programme printed. ‘We can do that for you! No problem,’ said Maurice, with a welcoming smile and a can-do attitude. And he did, perfectly and on time, from a little printing shop in Cheney Manor.

Furthermore, he happily sported a beard, liked reading, and played tennis too, all of which, in my eyes, made him a good man to know.

He is remembered with great fondness, respect, and gratitude.

Matt Holland, Lower Shaw Farm, West Swindon

Cells in cells

The Justice Secretary plans to give a whole new meaning to the term ‘cell phone’ as he provides prisoners with the means to communicate with the outside world.

Perhaps he should get on the phone to his friend the Health Secretary and demand that patients be given access to free-to-use telephones, or maybe a word in the ear of the Minister for Social Care, that pensioners have the same rights as prisoners.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Fares not the problem

The annual UK rail fare increase - with prices jumping up by an average of 3.1% on 2 January - made the return to work after the holidays an even bitterer pill to swallow for British commuters.

However, as protesters aired their grievances over the price hike in busy train stations such as London Victoria on the ‘first day back’, they should have focused on poor punctuality, overcrowding and cancellations instead of the cost of a season ticket - which actually beats many similar train travel routes across Europe in value for money. British commuters believe they pay some of the highest fares in the world, however, annual season tickets offer good value even with this year’s increase for those who have to travel to work five days a week.

Instead, the challenge for rail companies is to justify their efficiency and passenger comfort. For too long, rail commuters have faced delays and cancellations at short notice, plus cramped carriages.

Commuters are more than justified in complaining about these conditions. Rail can be a wonderful way to travel - the efficiency and value can be seen in many European rail networks.

If British commuters saw basic service improvements particularly in the fields of reliability and capacity, the season ticket price would hold up as more than justified - but when fares continually increase and service provided decreases, commuters aren’t seeing true value.

Kirsteene Phelan, Acting CEO of Rome2rio

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