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Swindon - Motoring Centre Of The Universe

The DriveWrite Archives British Government

Swindon - Motoring Centre Of The Universe

Geoff Maxted
October 7, 2013

In 2009 an enlightened official confirmed that the five speed cameras in our great Wiltshire metropolis would be switched off. Drivers learned their whereabouts, slowed appropriately and then beetled off much as before. The devices cost the Council £250k and it was decided that it simply wasn’t worth it. Since then accident statistics have remained static. The decision was indeed a wise one.

And so we come forward in time to 2013 and all is sweetness and light in the Borough. Not only have the cameras been removed but also a new era of peace and love has emerged much like the hippy culture in 1967. If you see motorists driving around with flowers in their hair, don’t be surprised. It is because they live in an enlightened town that actually cares for the driving public. This is not because of a rediscovered fondness for wacky baccy or magic mushrooms, no - it is because it makes hard-headed business sense.

Swindon town centre, it has to be said, is one of those ghastly 1960’s shopping developments and although redevelopment is planned the customer base has become used to out of town and internet shopping. Finally, someone realised that if parking charges were reduced - reduced mind you - and rules relaxed the shoppers would return and it is indeed so.

Traffic wardens (there’s only 16 of them) are council employees with discreet uniforms who are under no pressure whatsoever to issue tickets. They are there to be helpful and will only penalise stupidity or thoughtlessness. Ticket numbers have dropped by a third and wardens may turn a blind eye to a quick stop for fags on a double yellow. Thus, not only are drivers happier to come into town, it makes for a nicer working environment for the wardens. Win-win. It doesn’t stop there. A set of traffic lights on a busy roundabout have been switched off because it was felt they caused congestion. Now drivers are left to sort it out for themselves and it has been a huge success - no more congestion. This policy of removing street furniture will continue.

The grand plan has worked. In the past two years shopper numbers have increased by nearly fifty percent. That’s tremendous and a huge boost to beleaguered shopkeepers. The council have understood that the us and them attitude of civil enforcement doesn’t work. Instead of paying £1.20 an hour for parking, shoppers can now pay a flat fee of £2.00 for four hours. This gives them longer to patronise the shops, bars and restaurants. It’s simple really.

Obviously, the council has lost revenue but they have improved and revitalised the town immeasurably just by being reasonable. It seems that this model behaviour is spreading. Other councils are now seeing the wisdom of these actions. Long may it continue.

So, for total motoring stress relief move to Swindon, gateway to the west. Things can only get better.

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