Tag: stupid

Bad advice

It’s a long time since the jokers at the Swindon Community Safety Partnership have given us anything to laugh about, but now they’re back to their old habits. A bit of advice I was given many years ago — not by the Swindon Community Safety Partnership — was that one should always be cautious about using a mobile phone in a public place, particularly so in those locations, such as the entertainment zone of a town centre, where the risk of theft is high. Alas, it seems that the Swindon Community Safety Partnership may be about to encourage behaviour that’ll lead to a wave of mobile phone thefts. The partnership is going to send messages via bluetooth to clubbers’ mobile phones, giving them safety advice.

Bluetooth is a great, cost-effective way to reach lots of people with relevant bite-size community safety messages…. [I]t will be used selectively to support key awareness campaigns… and people can opt to decline messages, although we’d urge them to pick up the free advice.

I wonder if that advice will include ‘Keep you mobile phone out of sight when in an unsafe crowded area.’

From lollipops to messaging, the record of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership in dealing with Friday night revellers is consistently daft.

Bradshaw admits public sector recruitment bias

Mr Bradshaw has recently announced the creation of over 600 publicly funded jobs to massage the unemployment figures help young unemployed people into work. The jobs are, almost without exception, in the public sector, including 142 at the National Monuments Record Centre in Swindon. According to Mr Bradshaw these jobs usually go to rich kids.

[T]hese are great jobs — jobs in sectors that can be really tough to break into, that are usually the preserve of better off children whose parents have the contacts to get them a foot in the door.

Err… so he’s saying that after twelve years of his government and all its bluster about inclusiveness, recruitment to public sector jobs is biased, favouring the wealthy with contacts, rather than recruiting on merit.

It’s nice of Mr Bradshaw to confirm that the old boy network is alive and well under New Labour.

Annie fails to see crimes

It seems that the government’s representative in South Swindon, Ms Snelgrove, is so eager to rubbish the priorities of Swindon Borough Council that she hasn’t even bothered to read what their priorities are. According to Ms Snelgrove the council isn’t concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.

I am appalled that the Council do not think anti-social behaviour and local crime are priorities in Swindon.

She even provides a link to the council’s priorities.

The Council sets its priorities under the Local Area Agreement (www.swindon.gov.uk/yourcouncil-laa) but crime and anti-social behaviour are not even mentioned.

Follow that link. You’ll find, as the sixth of six priorities in the current Local Area Agreement the following.

A place where the resident population can have real influence to develop a sense of community and belonging, and where reducing crimes makes them feel safe.

If Ms Snelgrove thinks that’s not even mentioning crime, she really should go back to school and take some English language lessons.

Update 23:09. I see that Ms Snelgrove has now issued an updated version claiming criteria that were used to dish out this money, though this wasn’t mentioned in the government press release.

Areas that received funding are those that either chose to include ASB as one of their Local Area Agreement priorities or were one of the areas chosen by the Home Office as having high levels of ASB.

So she’s complaining that the council didn’t make a priority out of something her own government doesn’t think is a big issue in Swindon anyway. Logic, reasoning and representing the best interests of her constituents never were Ms Snelgrove’s strong points. Clearly, they still aren’t.

A gullible partnership

The naïvety of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership continues to amaze. This week the Partnership’s leader, Mr Palusinki, is claiming that invisible marking of property reduces burglary by over 85%.

Effective property marking has reduced burglaries in other areas by up to 85 percent. Goods are less attractive to thieves if they can be easily identified.

Mr Palusinki is guilty of believing the manufacturer’s advertising material. The evidence on which those claims are based is weak.

An area containing approximately 500 homes was identified as being suitable for a pilot test to allow Police to assess the effectiveness of forensic property marking which is based on the principles of human DNA…. Within the ‘hot-spot’, 95% of the properties used the forensic marking ‘kits’, which included a large number of repeat victims, to mark their property. Signage, posters and window stickers were then used to deter criminals from operating in the area as well as significant media coverage…. The pilot was a huge success, with an incredible 85% reduction in domestic burglary, 60% reduction in theft from vehicles, and 50% reduction in theft of vehicles.

So in reality, it wasn’t the marking of property that caused the reduction in burglaries, it was the publicity that accompanied it that had the effect.

Mr Palusinki, it seems, is an advertiser’s dream customer.

Bags of complaint

Not a marketing successIt must be hard being a large retailer. You put lots of effort into cultivating an ‘environmentally friendly’ image, replacing plastic carrier bags with paper ones that proclaim their virtues, only to find that these marketing efforts are ineffective with your customers.

Now, you might think that if — as the person stood in front of me yesterday in a cashiers’ queue was — you’re buying clothes made entirely of synthetic fibres, clothes that have been transported at least half way round the globe, then the least of your environmental concerns should be the material of the carrier bag into which your purchase is being placed. Not to the aforementioned customer ahead of me in the queue. She looked at the cashier packing her polyester paradise into a brown paper bag and said “Paper? Oh well. Why not waste another tree?” For a style-conscious cheap-fashion junkie, only plastic bags for plastic clothing will do, I suppose.


Mr Slattery of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church seems not to be very media savvy.

I was a bit surprised when Ladbrokes approached me about taking on a charity bet. Of course I’m not promoting gambling, and I know the damage it has done to some families.

I wonder in what way Mr Slattery thinks that getting Ladbrokes a free mention in both local and national press is not promoting gambling. At just £50 (or £1300 if he wins), the bookies have got an advertising bargain.

Fantasy worlds

It’s difficult to decide which is least believable. First there’s LDA Design making over-the-top claims for Wharf Green (You can either read the original press release, or its recycled form in the Adver).

The square has given a real boost to the town centre and its ambitious long-term plans for regeneration.

Or the even more ridiculous claims in their submission to The Civic Trust’s awards.

Wharf Green provides a first impression for many visitors, and this scheme has redeveloped the area to provide a new town centre square, meeting and public performance space. A large scale timber façade serves to both integrate a large TV screen and conceal an unattractive car park, making the area more welcoming. The landscaping has softened a large space and encourages people in to make use of this improved public space.

The only visitors for whom Wharf Green would provide a first impression of Swindon are those arriving by parachute, blindfolded. And in what way has digging up the old flower beds and replacing them with an uninterrupted expanse of paving stones ‘softened a large space’? Developer hyperbole, one; reality nil.

But move to the edge of town and the claims, this time by the campaigners, are no more realistic. There, the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust has wild claims for the potential that a few stones indicate for the area near Coate Water.

There is a real chance here to create almost a mini-Avebury…. Whilst not on the scale of Avebury, it is so exciting to know that Coate is steeped in similar pre-history…. It would be criminal to surround these ancient relics of the past with modern buildings.

That’s not on the same scale as Avebury in the way that Swindon isn’t on the same scale as London, or that Coate Water isn’t on the same scale as Lake Windermere.

Developers and environmental campaigners are often opposed to each other, but when it comes to having a grasp on reality, both are equally out-of-touch.

Listen to the children

Councillor engages mouth before engaging his electorateWhilst reading about a councillor from Haydon Wick Parish Council bewailing the poor road access to the proposed Oakhurst School, it was difficult to come to any conclusion other than that he is totally out-of-touch.

The proposal is aspirational and assumes that everyone will be walking their darling children to school. That is just not realistic in this day and age. We would like better traffic management and allow for the fact that people take their kids to school by car.

The comments in the article from parents all suggested they would walk their children to school. Most of the comments posted said the same.

It was also difficult not to notice, at the top of the list of Student Adver articles one headlined ‘Look After The Environment’. Mr Pike should spend more time listening to the children — and, if he’s any sense, his parishioners.

Not-so-black Saturday

Palusinski’s fantasyIf there’s one thing you can rely on from the Swindon Community Safety Bureaucracy Partnership, it’s stupidity. The economy’s nose-dived, bookings for Christmas parties are heavily down, yet Mr Palusinski from the Bureaucracy Partnership is not sure why yesterday evening seemed to be just like any other Saturday night.

Considering that some people in the national press were calling it black Saturday, it was relatively calm in the town centre. I am not sure why the numbers were so average but they were.

A quick search reveals that just about the only person referring to yesterday as Black Saturday is Mr Palusinski.

Whether the message we are putting out there is being heeded by revellers, or whether it is the current financial drought that is resulting in people drinking less, I am not sure.

Hint: it’s the economy, stupid.

I consider the operation a success.

I consider the operation a waste of the public’s money.

Lies, damned lies and tax debt statistics

Swindon Borough Council’s Mr Martin is clearly no statistician. His social analysis skills aren’t too hot either. According to Mr Martin, a league table of wards based on levels of outstanding council tax debt will help them to ‘identify areas that may have problems’

The idea of breaking it down into wards is to help us identify areas that may have problems and see what we can do to help.

He does seem to have a few doubts though.

We have to look more carefully at these figures because for example, Abbey Meads is not one of the places with a lot of benefit claimants

Quite. As Mr Martin clearly hasn’t bothered, I’ll do the analysis for him. Here are the figures – and spin – from the Adver.

Abbey Meads comes in at fifth in the league of council tax dodgers – with over £572,000 owed from 904 court orders. The worst area is Central ward, which is £688,000 in the red with 1,390 court orders. Gorse Hill & Pinehurst, Eastcott and Parks are close behind, each owing in excess of £600,000. The most punctual payers evidently live in Ridgeway ward, where just under £44,000 is outstanding from 71 court orders.

Let’s concentrate on just the three wards for which full figures have been given. In the council’s chosen ranking, they are:

  • Central — £688,000 from 1,390 court orders
  • Abbey Meads — £572,000 from 904 court orders
  • Ridgeway — £44,000 from 71 court orders

I can’t find figures for how many taxable properties there are in each ward. The best indicator of ward size I can find is the electorate (i.e. those registered to vote) at the last local elections.

With the population of Abbey Meads four times as large as that of Ridgeway, any analysis based on totals per ward is going to be heavily skewed in favour of Ridgeway and against Abbey Meads. There are various sums one can do to try to remove that effect.

Ward Debt per
Court orders per
1000 electors
Debt per
court order
Abbey Meads £53 84 £632
Central £88 178 £494
Ridgeway £17 28 £619

From that analysis you could say that it’s not the wards with high numbers of benefit claimants that have the problem, but the more affluent ones, as there the amounts owed – the last column in the table – are, on average, much higher.

Of course, if you pick the other columns in the table, the conclusion is different… but not more correct.