I tried out the new branch of Rendezvous this lunchtime, on the corner of Haydon Street and Corporation Street. The smell of fresh paint was still detectable at the entrance, though fortunately not beyond. The meal, at £7 for three courses plus china tea, was sufficient, though not generous… which is how I like it at lunchtime — an afternoon’s work on a bloated stomach is never the most efficient. The decor also is sufficient, functional and tidy without being overly elaborate. I found all three courses a little sweet for my liking, but still very good for the price. The crispy pancake roll starter was quite mild, to my liking. The main course of beef with green peppers and black bean sauce was good, with tasty thin slices of beef. I would have preferred to have had a choice of fried or boiled rice, rather than it being prescribed on the menu, but that is a minor quibble, and the fried rice was very finely done and not greasy as is often the case, even in much more expensive restaurants. The desert was fine, though slightly crisper batter for the apple fritter would have been nice. Finally, the pot of china tea was very generously sized, though a little weak. Service was a little confused — to many waiters with not enough customers to serve — but I am sure that will improve as trade picks up. In all, the meal was good for the price and the establishment is a welcome addition to this corner of Swindon.
The campaign for weekly rubbish collections
The rather active populous at the other end of central ward have set-up a new blog for the campaign against fortnightly rubbish collections, as opposition extends in Swindon beyond the local area. For those interested in the campaign, it has some useful information. The same people have also reported a certain level of confusion from the council workers as to who will have a wheelie bin collection and who will not. To tell people that a wheelie bin is only for storing rubbish in and that rubbish will not be collected from it (they need to take the rubbish out of the wheelie bin before putting it out for collection) is to bring the whole process down to the level of farce.
In all the arguments over whether central Swindon should or should not have wheelie bins, one issue seems to have been consistently overlooked. As seen again in the council’s response to the latest protests in the Broadgreen area, the only concern seems to be whether wheelie bins can be fitted into the space in front of the houses. They do not seem to be thinking about how much slower the collections in central Swindon might become with wheelie bins.
At the moment, the dustmen can quickly and easily hoist a black bag straight over my front wall, without coming in through the gate. It takes no more than a couple of seconds. Come November they’ll have to come through my (sprung) gate, manœuvre the bin out through the gate (which by now will have closed), between the parked cars to the dustcart. Then repeat the action in reverse once the bin is empty. In the more spacious suburbs, where the manœuvring will be much easier, this might be quite quick. In the Victorian terraces it will not. I get the impression that nobody has thought at all about how much more this will cost in time and hence money.
Safer and a little cleaner
It’s nice to see that Mr Montaut hasn’t lost the ability to grab every photo opportunity that presents itself. Admittedly, it’s also nice that he actually makes his presence known within the ward, which is more than can be said for some of our representatives, who seem to be following an established tradition of showing more interest in places elsewhere. It’s just a pity that whenever he chooses to talk, so much hypocritical garbage pours out.
Central ward councillor Derique Montaut said that the clean-up was a step closer to a happier community. He said: “This kind of activity is essential to promote good feeling in the community and the work that’s been done over the recent months in other parts of the town has been superb.”
Hmm… I could have sworn he put a leaflet through my door when campaigning for election just six months ago claiming
But we need an active Council that will use its anti social behaviour powers to curb yobbish behaviour, vandalism and graffiti. The Tories have failed to do this…. Since taking control of Swindon the Tories have regularly cut and under invested in the important issue of street cleaning.
I wonder how long it will be before his party is suggesting that this was all down to his personal effort and money from central government, and nothing to do with the current council administration. Nor the local community.
Jean, the director of children and families at Swindon Council, said: “I am not denying there has been any litter but it’s been a lot lower than we had expected, which is great news…. It’s something that residents should take real pride in and if they have helped clear the streets themselves, they have made an investment in the community.”
Making mountains out of strategies
The latest document for consultation from Swindon Borough Council is their Swindon Houses in Multiple Occupancy Strategy — bedsits in common parlance. (In passing, I find it strange how selective the council is about which consultations actually get listed on their Have Your Say page.) The document is a masterpiece of padding. It runs to thirty five pages but the strategy itself appears in a table that is contained within a table that occupies just a little over two pages. It’s very informative about what the council does to try and regulate houses in multiple occupation but, except for those two pages, ’tis not a strategy. The most interesting parts are the maps showing the concentration of these properties in the Radnor Street, Tennyson Street and Broadgreen areas. Given how weak the council’s powers are (licensing only becomes necessary for houses with more than five unrelated occupants and of three or more storeys; planning controls only apply for houses with more than six unrelated occupants) and the brevity of the actual strategy and the verbosity of the document, it’s not worth the read for much else.
Swindon Borough Council has now published a list of which streets will not have to use wheelie bins and will instead have fortnightly blue bag collections. There’s several things that are irritating about this. Looking at the list, it’s mainly of roads where the houses front straight onto the pavement. But streets such as The Mall, Faringdon Road and Park Lane, where the houses all have reasonably sized front gardens and the roads are level, are also reprieved, whereas the many terraces with a mere 3 ft front yard (Tennyson Street, for example) will receive wheelie bins, despite the difficulties of manœuvring them in such a confined space. This is inconsistent with both the council’s published basis of assessment of wheelie-suitability and that the slightly more generous criteria that councillors were told. Not surprisingly some people in Broadgreen are not impressed. According to the council’s director of environment and health
The survey was done by an expert refuse driver who walked the streets around the town assessing the road and properties to see which would be suitable. It has been done by someone who knows how the system works and understands the service and its needs.
He seems to be forgetting something. Services are there to serve the people and it is the people’s needs that are being forgotten. Also Councillor Wren is back spouting, appropriately for his council responsibilities, utter rubbish.
We mustn’t lose sight of the two key reasons why we’re making these changes. Firstly, we have to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill, otherwise each and every one of us will be hit in the pocket. And secondly, it’s damaging to the environment to bury re-usable materials.
All of which is totally irrelevant to the issue of blue bag versus wheelie bin.
It’s not all sweetness and light for those receiving blue bags either. The blue bags will be twice the size of ordinary black refuse sacks. That’ll make them easy to carry when full!
How central is Central?
It’s so nice to see that Councillor Montaut retains his ability to make stupid statements. This time, commenting on the Streets for Living project in the Broadgreen area of Central Ward which he represents.
It is a positive initiative that we welcome, because the area is in need of support. There has been massive investment in the town centre and it is crucial that attention is paid to the wards further afield.
Err… what was the name of the ward again?