Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 26

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

10 . I say lets attack Sweden.

9 . She finished the whole book, only took her seven months.

8 . He's a Vice-President and he thinks he's a god of insurance.

7 . They were thrilled to see us, they said.

6 . Isn't gardening now an Olympic sport?

5 . No, this is the top, where my fingers are.

4 . I heard he died quietly, considering he was in the library at the time, that's quite appropriate.

3 . They gave her a raise and her own parking space, so she's happy.

2 . It was a knock-out punch.

And the top ten overheard phrase on Swindon's buses last week?

1 . He called it a three-way dynamic, she thought he was asking in a technical way if they should spice things up in the bedroom. It was actually which of three ways you can take to Birmingham.

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

"No Minister" - That's None Of Your Business

The publication of the expense accounts for our MPs always throws up a handful of stories which mostly are non-stories, but this one this one we just had to mention.

When asked how many staff he employed in his personal office the Member for North Wiltshire replied "it's none of your business". A wonderful example of Mr Gray's 'Sir Humphrey' attitude to open government and the general voting public.

This is despite the more reasonable response from the two Swindon MPs.

Swindon Centric Says ; If you live in Mr Gray's boundary and he knocks on your door come election time to ask who you're voting for, you know the answer. That's none of your business.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Swindon's Under-Recognised Artists Need Say In Town Centre Redevelopment

Local artist, Ken White has finished two murals at Commonweal School of local actresses Diana Dors and Billie Piper.

He wrote Dors name below her picture, because he didn't think local children would know who she was. Piper's was left blank as Ken suggested she may want to come and sign it herself.

Swindon Centric Says ; Ken White and other local artists should be given the opportunity for huge input to the town centre redevelopment. Yes, we do have a few doing some sculptures with the felled trees from Wharf Green, but we need more. Huge murals could become Swindon's new town centre unique selling point, along with the extra shops the New Swindon Company hopes to attract. Many of us talk about the murals that were all over town decades ago, what about a programme of constant new murals, say several every year?

Is anyone from New Swindon Company reading this?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

War On Jazz 2 ; Driving The Jazz Underground

Swindon Borough Council today clamped down on the scourge of jazz by ordering The Old Bank in Wood Street to close it's doors when it has it's weekly music evening.

So for anyone out there who's wishing to make their voice heard by the Council, just complain no-more than six times and your wish will be granted.

Swindon Centric Says ; How many times, on average have the same people had to make multiple complaints about their weekly recycling collection before the problem was solved? Perhaps a freedom of information request could be the next job for the Swindon Centric investigative news desk?

Tomorrow : The Council War On Rabbits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Council Declares War On Smooth, Toe-Tapping Jazz

Swindon Borough Council is considering revoking The Old Bank Brasserie's license for live music, because it has jazz played too loud.

The upmarket Old Town bar and restaurant has a live jazz evening every week. But the council has received six complaints in five months.

Six complaints in a year? Wow, how many complaints has the Council received about it's recycling service over the same period? We'd like to see the figures. However, the officers pointed out the noise was worse when the Bank's doors were propped open, so the solution is simple.

But for the sake of balance, how many of those six complaints are from the same person? Anyone from the council willing to give us the details of that?

Swindon Centric Says ; How many police call outs have been made to Angelo's in Fleet Street and only now are they talking about effective action for that club? Six complaints, come on!

Monday, October 22, 2007

They Really Don't Work ; Swindon's Services Crumble Round Our Ears

Police, then health and now another essential service for the town has been declared ineffective and failing to meet targets. The consequences of this one failing have their own tragic outcomes, it's Swindon's Drug Service.

With a refreshing honesty, the strategic development manager for substance misuse said , "we didn't meet any of the targets set for us by the National Treatment Agency." Further to this the council predicts it will cost £57million per year, at least, in the resulting crimes from the service's failings.

It was also added that Swindon has a large number of people with alcohol abuse who seem to be forgotten by the general public when drug treatment is mentioned.

Swindon Centric Says ; With the increase in related crime from the service's failings, can Wiltshire Constabulary be trusted to respond effectively, with their low rating too, to solving those crimes?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 25

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

10 . That's the problem everyone has, they really don't 'get' her.

9 . Well I always knew he was gay, I could tell by the shoes.

8 . Hey, I love cheese.

7 . What does he think he's doing?

6 . No, they've been that price since August, you'd better check and make sure they're safe to eat.

5 . She told me they all knew what the truth is, but he'll never get caught out, unless she uses the video camera.

4 . Are you sweating?

3 . It's very unseasonal for this time of year isn't it?

2 . Professional is my middle name, along with Simon.

And the top ten overheard phrase on Swindon's buses this week?

1 . He's gone organic he said, if he stands in the same place for too long I swear he'll start to decompose.

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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Swindon's Health Less Than Perfect, Or Even Good

After the police rankings were released recently, a similar report on the state of the town's health services has been published.

Not wanting to be too different to the Wiltshire Constabulary, those in the health sector were pretty much the same. Swindon Primary Care Trust, runner of GP's surgeries and dentist practises has dropped from a 'good' to 'fair' rating.

The operator of the Great Western Hospital, the Swindon & Marlborough NHS Trust, also got a lower rating.

The reality based universe the rest of us exist in has been put aside for the paradox the PR spin team exist in following this news. Yes, you've guessed it, just like the PR after the police rankings, they believe it is good news.

Swindon Centric Says ; Do the health sector of our town have the same PR team as the police? And do the people who work there have a fever?

School Age Children Need School Places Shock!

You'll recall the chaos, doubt and worry caused by the closing, merging and threats made to the existence of Swindon schools that seems to have haunted classrooms this year?

Well, many of the changes were, we continually were told, to ensure the town would not be left with surplus places in years to come.

It'll seem rather stupid for the council to admit then that it is struggling to cope with pupil demand in the Northern Development. As Councillor Garry Perkins said "we are trying to play catch up with where children are".

Swindon Centric Says ; Who did Mr Perkins and the council think would be moving into the four and five bedroom family houses being built either side of Thamesdown Drive for the past five years? How can they be trusted to get the numbers right after the appalling way schools in other parts of town have been treated?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fears Don't Grow For Old Building, Story Recycled

The news that the Mechanics' Institute has been put on another 'at risk' list, this time by the Victorian Society, has triggered the recycling of a story several years old.

Every time some new listing or inclusion is made to the empty Mechanics' Institute, a call goes out how urgent repairs are needed and how 'fears are growing' for the building.

Several years ago the building was boarded up and the roof was made safe, it is at less risk of structural failure than it has been since it became empty in the 1980s.

Swindon Centric Says ; It's not at greater risk of collapse, it's has been abandoned for long enough, that's the real story. So why are we not badgering Swindon Borough Council to give us a date by which repair work starts, regardless of who owns it? If commercially, things are not viable, the Council should take it into authority ownership and take the responsibility itself.

That would show courage and proper leadership.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Police Station Is Now A Trendy Wine Bar

After last week's news that Wiltshire Constabulary is at the best average but mostly falling below that standard and in the relegation area when it comes to national ranking, confidence in the county's force is not good.

So today's details that there are three police stations open to the public throughout the county will not do much to boost it.

PR spin from the force is that 90 percent of people contact the police by phone, so there's no need to have physical stations sounds familiar.

Soon, vast call centres will be outsourced to Asia and all the branches will become trendy wine bars.

Swindon Centric Says ; There is another way you know, use the force.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Swindon Shopping Rumours 3 ; John Lewis Drops Anchor In Swindon

Swindon Centric can reveal today, from a reliable source, that John Lewis will be part of the town centre redevelopment.

The department store will build premises on the former Fleming Way Post Office site, across the road from the current Debenhams location. That store will move to the Regents Place development, off Commercial Road.

This will give two major stores at either end of the main retail area, 'anchor stores' as they are called.

Swindon Centric Says ; We are now wondering what will become of House Of Fraser's building (they will move out in the next few years), with it being a hybrid of the old Brunel market and partly new building. Will any other retailers find it suitable, or will it be sub-divided for smaller outlets?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 24

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

10 . I'll send you the contract in the post.

9 . I've got no interest in your problem.

8 . No they never caught him, everyone knows where he is though.

7 . That's my favourite show.

6 . No, she's taller than you think, she comes up to here on me.

5 . I wish you'd said earlier, I could have cleaned it before I put it on.

4 . That cake gives me my fat intake for a month and a half, I'll finish it before Monday.

3 . He says he doesn't like to go on about it, but he does, all the time.

2 . I'm a real man, I know my limitations.

Here's the top ten overheard phrase from Swindon's buses from last week...

1 . She says she 'rules her roost', I always said she looked like a rather fat, shaggy crow ; so it seems we agree on one thing.

Overheard something far mroe interesting that we missed? Let us know.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Wouldn't Touch Him With A Barge Pole ; Perhaps For £50 Million

We've been told a couple of interesting details this week.

Firstly a study into putting the canal back through the town centre would cost £50 million.

Next, the leader of the Borough Council, Roderick Bluh, said the money would not come from local taxpayers.

Which seems fair enough, he said that since £1.5 billion was being spent to regenerate the town centre, that £50 million isn't that much in comparison.

He added that the money would be from regeneration agencies. Since those government derived agencies (English Partnerships is the main one) get their money from central government, we do pay for it, on a national level.

Swindon Centric Says ; The canal seems like a good idea, lets hope it's done properly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Swindon Shopping Rumours 2 ; Just The Facts Shoppers, Just The Facts

As we sort of revealed in May, Debenhams is to move from Fleming Way to the Regent Place development as the 'anchor store' for that end of town.

Ok, so we didn't say it was Debenhams, and we didn't say it was moving, but we feel in need of an exclusive news boost. But we did say where the new store site would be located.

Let's try again and see if we can redo the second part of our May story. Here goes...

In the town centre redevelopment, House Of Fraser will move out of the town. We don't mean, 'move out of town' as in go to an out-of-town location, but leave Swindon all together. They aren't taking anywhere near as much money as they expected. People in Swindon like a bargain it seems when it comes to department store shopping, or indeed shopping all together.

So there's another exclusive, but with more facts and names and stuff.

Swindon Centric Says ; If the new stores built by that chain in other places are anything to go by, Swindon might be fortunate and get a landmark building. Get your store cards ready.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Low Crime ; If It Happens, They'll Probably Have A Jolly Good Go At Solving It

Reason to wonder what Wiltshire Constabulary do with the time they have on their hands due to Wiltshire being one of the safest Counties. You'd think they would be training up all the time to make sure when crime occurs, they are the best at solving it.

Well, that comment is fair, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Out of 43 forces assessed, Wiltshire was ranked seventh from the bottom and given 8 out of 21.

The force came out and said it was good news, well not really, it's fair to average news.

Plus, another area of the same report says officers are tied up in too much red tape, which puts children suffering abuse at risk.

Swindon Centric Says ; To say that our force is average to fair is not good news, it's just fair. We can do better.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I Hear A Tit(ter)! War On News Continues With Saucy 'Story'

Coverage of a the sale of a Swindon sex shop was trivialised today, as people thought it far more funny to have a laugh at the prospective owners paying a visit to the premises, than talk about what the prime piece of real estate will actually be changed into.

As demonstrated here, there was much discussion of how funny motorists sat in cars in a jam on Devizes Road thought the visits were. The local paper, of course carried this 'news', but no detail about what the site could be instead, why the shop is moving out, or anything further than a good laugh was deemed neccessary.

Swindon Centric Says ; Good to see the scant aspects of a weak story were missed for the sake of a poor laugh at a future local business owner's expense.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Top Ten Things Heard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 23

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

10 . You know you should feel sorry for the Tories, but who really cares?

9 . I know, I couldn't believe he could do that, until I saw the pictures.

8 . He'd taken all the folders and hidden them under the bed.

7 . She said 'you're paranoid', I said, 'no I'm not I'm Buddist'.

6 . I've done my Christmas shopping, for 2008, not this year's yet though.

5 . You must be a real riot at parties.

4 . He offered me counselling, all I wanted was a refund.

3 . Pretty soon there'll be a congestion charge on pedestrians.

2 . I rarely use my mobile phone, except to take pictures. I use my camera for sending texts though, so it all evens out.

And the top ten overheard phrase from Swindon's buses last week, according to the Strictly Come Dancing judges, is...

1 . They're getting free tickets to a future game because they played so badly, why didn't we get free season tickets for the past few years then?

Overheard something we missed through you ipod ear buds? Been told about a conversation that was far more juicy? If so, let us know.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Anyone Found Any News? No Story Terror Hits Town!

Trawling our town for news can be quite a boring job, especially when you find stories that aren't actually stories.

The Swindon Coalition Of Disabled People has blamed the London 2012 Olympics for diverting money they 'expected' to be given to them for this year. Having been funded for the past six years, they were surprised not to get their funding this year and be told they do not benefit the whole community.

A few things spring to mind. The lottery changes and redefines it's criteria for donating money all the time, this is not anything new. They do not benefit the whole community, but do benefit a minority of disabled people, but do not meet the new criteria.

Plus, the money for the Olympics which is coming from the lottery, is from specific Olympic scratchcards and a new draw to be held nearer the time. This is explained here. Any money that is being diverted is coming from sports across the country and not from main lottery 'good causes'.

Swindon Centric Says ; Of course it's a shame that the Swindon Coalition Of Disabled People will not get their funding, but they could try fundraising or sponsorship like many other groups and community organisations have to. We wonder how much this story might have been spun to sound more interesting than it actually is?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bizzare Parallels Show Hole In The Fabric Of Reality Is Near Swindon

As some people get animated about the selling of cigarettes to under eighteen year olds, it seems priorities are different not that far away.

With a story older than the hills itself, about selling tobacco to under age teenagers, there doesn't seem to be much happening in Swindon at the end of this week.

Not too far away in Tidworth police are promising to crack down on egg throwers by asking shops to not sell eggs to anyone who appears under the age of 18. According to residents and police, there's been a spate of egg throwing in the town.

Swindon Centric Says ; Why don't we just swap? If Tidworth's biggest problem is egg throwing, send their police to Swindon and we can extend the 18 age ban on cigarettes to include eggs.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Resident Takes Picture Of Cat, Whole Town Shocked

The Swindon Beaver Herald today continued it's policy of breaking non-news as real, meaty current affairs when it printed a photo and article about a resident's cat which has slightly unusual markings.

Mrs Timpson's four year old ginger tom-cat is unique in his local area for having a slight purple streak down his left front leg.

"When we saw this, I immediately knocked the story of the oversized onions from the front page and asked the picture desk to blow up this picture as big as possible. I was saying to myself as I filed down my nails, 'what a scoop' ". That quote from the Swindon Beaver Herald's editor, Perry White.

Swindon Centric Says ; What will they run with tomorrow? Pensioner who knits a house shaped jumper? Town's biggest cottage pie? Swindon's first annual watermelon eating competition? We can only hope.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Self-Serving Story Makes Front Page ; Town Takes No Notice

The retirement of Mary Masterson from the Swindon Beaver Herald today caused the paper to publish the story, in not just a vanity exercise, but as a convenient opportunity to fill otherwise blank column inches as well.

" Mary has worked as a picture editor at the Beaver since 1939 and has seen many changes, not least the introduction of the computer, the internet and instant coffee." That insightful insight from the editor of the Swindon Beaver Herald Perry White.

The article also included details of what Masterson plans on doing once she leaves, how many grandchildren she has and a recreation of her pose for the sleazy local rag's first page 3 girl feature back in 1963.

Swindon Centric Says ; The Beaver Herald has half a dozen other staff due for retirement in the next few months, we understand each of these to be expanded to a 20 page tribute, with news, sport and weather shoved to one paragraph on the back page.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Half-Empty Licensing Policy ; Coming In On A Plastic Wing & A Christian Prayer

Anyone new to Swindon looking at the town's drinking culture would be slightly bemused by some of the aspects that keep drinkers and residents safe.

Firstly there's a group of Christians calling themselves Swindon Street Pastors who have been on duty on Friday evenings to make sure any late night revellers get home safely. Secondly, Swindon Borough Council is considering introducing plastic glasses to licensed premises in an effort to cut down the chance of anyone using the glass versions of these as weapons. Its good to know that in the same meeting to discuss this a councillor said larger glasses should be considered, to make sure those ordering pints get the full head in their glass.

We could make a smart comment about bigger glasses, containing more drink making people more prone to violence, but we won't.

Swindon Centric Says ; Congratulations to the Pastors, actually doing something to help the community. Why doesn't the council and Wiltshire Constabulary fund a group of wardens like this, or get more Community Support Officers, or police Officers to do this job? Plus, are we to assume that Swindon's Council hasn't forced any premises to use plastic glasses to reduce risk?

These plastic alternatives have been around for years, why is the Council only just thinking about using them now?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weather Trained Housebuilders Predict Sunshine & No Showers At Front Garden

Following the flooding of the area in July, developers carving up the Front Garden area have assured us that the homes to be built there will not flood.

They've even spun that news by saying it wouldn't happen even in the worst floods in a thousand years.

So that means the houses in Wichelstowe will either be the best designed against flooding like the ones in the Netherlands, or that the developers are telling porkie pies.

Swindon Centric Says ; Does anyone in one of those insurances offices along Commercial Road want to give us a rough assessment of what it might cost to insure against flooding on one of these houses? Go on, quote us wet, or dry!