Bluh’s Monkey Trap – Silver Service at Lydiard Park or Sandwiches at the Civic ?

The Swindon Pravdatiser reports today that Rod Bluh’s micro-cabinet, in a desperate bid to entice shoppers back into the Brunel Centre milking parlour,  is ‘slashing’ town centre car parking charges.   The Rodigarchy has apparently decided that this will give Swindon ‘traders’ an ‘economic boost’.

Whilst the Pravdatiser loyally reproduces  Bluh’s pious economic whittering’s and Cllr  Greenhalgh’s attacks on the spending habits of other Councillors it once again fails to discuss the Rodigarchy’s own profligate spending habits, even as we enter times of greater municipal austerity and greater public interest in the public coffers.    Bluh’s small and brutalistic cabal of trusted political lieutenants may wringing their hands publicly about ‘hard decisions’ and ‘tough choices’ they have to make for our own good, but they seem determined to enjoy, (at our expense), the ‘perks’ of office with exactly the same sense of entitlement they so often criticised the last government for.

Bluh himself recently proclaimed that…..

“No one should underestimate the size of this problem. No one should go around thinking any public service can carry on with business as usual”

….yet only last Saturday Councillor David Renard, lead member for Childrens Services, cheerfully announced via the Twitter-sphere that the Rodigarchy is absolutely ‘carrying on with business as usual’ that he was going to be:

“All day at Lydiard Conference Centre with Cabinet colleagues discussing our strategy for the coming year”

I’m told the Cabinet did not take packed lunches with them and neither did they sup luke warm beverages from battered tartan-patterned thermos flasks.  They did not picnic alfresco on the lawns at Lydiard amongst the hoi-polloi.  There were  no austerity measures suffered by Mr Bluh and his chums last weekend so one must wonder what the difference in cost to the taxpayer was between holding their meeting at the Lydiard Park Conference centre (including breakfast, elevenses, lunch and afternoon teas), vs  Committee room 6 at the civic and sandwiches brought from home?  

But anyway, back to the town centre and the ‘King of Carparks’ Cllr Greenhalgh, who was much vexed by Councillor Harrison, (Lib Dem Penhill ward), who said:

“I’m not sure this proposal will have any benefit in the town.  I’ll be honest, I don’t shop in the town centre because I can get everything I need outside of town.   It’s not always a pleasurable experience to shop in Swindon and I don’t think changing parking charges is enough to change that.”

I agree with his point. However much Bluh & Co talk the town centre ‘up’, it has not been a pleasant place to visit for a long, long time and historically high, greedy in fact, parking charges have done little to enhance the relatively poor retail ‘offer’, (to use Councillor language), in the town centre.  As Bluh likes to use Americanisms to get his point across, I’ll try one out –  “Charge $50 for a $10 hooker and she’ll starve to death” – and that’s exactly what Bluh’s executive have been doing to the town centre with it’s car park tariffs.

Councillor Greenhalgh, lead member for car parks ‘n’ stuff, was unhappy with Cllr Harrisons honesty and lost no time in claiming the moral high-ground.

“I am however very disappointed that a councillor, elected by the people of Swindon, doesn’t support the town centre by using it.  I use the town centre all the time and my wife supports trade there… perhaps too much… but the point is, how can to encourage people to use what we have here and spend time here if you yourself don’t?”

…which is a definite example of the Pot calling the Kettle Black.  Councillor Greenhalgh is a passionate believer in shopping in bulk at the Reading branch of Costco, as any guest to one of his regular, and very enjoyable soireés, will testify and he has his hair cut ‘oop North.

I’ll be clear about this – there is absolutely nothing wrong with shopping where you wish and your income dictates, but don’t deliver hypocritical and holier-than-thou judgements on others for doing exactly the same as yourself.   I was introduced to the pleasures and financial benefits  of shopping at Costco by Councillor Greenhlagh, something I and my wallet remain grateful for and it is a shame that Swindon does not have a Costco itself.

Also, considering that strategic planning and transport have been within Councillor Greenhalgh’s portfolio for several years, why does it still take nearly as long to get from West Swindon into the town Centre as it does to get into Newbury, which may be a smaller town but has a much, much better retail ‘offer’ than Swindon and, unlike Swindon,  is having a smart, new shopping built in Parkway which will genuinely complement its historic Northbrook Street.   Rod Bluh & Co could learn much from its smaller but more successful neighbour, but of course Rod & Co always know best….don’t they?, and just when they have finally realised that the Town centre needs people and shops, why is it that they are so intent on kicking out the on-street traders when the balance of public opinion seems to indicate that people quite enjoy being able to buy a bacon butty, a doughnut and flowers at street prices?……

Times are getting harder, there’s no doubt about that, but Bluh’s fiscal recklessness, his control-freakery and his amateur-league  meddling in projects he’s not mentally equipped to deliver on-cost, on-time or even at all,  are likely to make the towns near future far more uncomfortable than was likely if he’d played safer instead of indulging himself and gambling our money pursuing his vanity-driven legacy politics.

Bluh’s troop haven’t quite realised that their paws are in a monkey-trap of Bluh’s creation. Will they chew their own paws off or let go of the fruit ?

Posted on
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Filed under:
Walking & Walkies.
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