Author Topic: Lamplighters: Mechanics Institute In Imminent Danger Of Collapse?  (Read 39807 times)

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Offline Francoise De Lampe

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Lamplighters: Mechanics Institute In Imminent Danger Of Collapse?
« on: September 02, 2010, 11:05:05 AM »
 
For several days now, the Lamplighters network has been buzzing with details of 'significant' problems with Cllr Greenhalgh's decision to take personal responsibility for the 'urgent works' at the Mechanics Institute.

There is an unusual news black-out centred on, and apparently controlled by someone at the Civic offices.

We are wishing to avoid causing consternation in the general public* however, it seems that some SBC Directors and Councillors are keeping the public in the dark while bum-covering press releases are polished.

Keep the info coming folks..... :)


* Geoff said there is a quote from something called 'Dads Army' which is appropriate.  I do not undrstand this.



Offline Chris Watts

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 11:43:16 AM »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-11153393

Quote from BBC
Deputy leader Garry Perkins said: "What we have found is very depressing."
He added: "It's obvious even at this stage that it's going to take much more money than we have earmarked to stabilise the structure."

What is that phrase about the art of good comedy?
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Offline Drone

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 05:18:56 PM »
Does it look like they've left it too late?

Last I heard (from someone who had been inside the building), it was very, very bad in places but very reparable in others.

And if English Heritage gave £250,000 (no mean feat considering the cuts they have to make), how much did SBC think they'd have to cough up? Enough to paint the whole thing orange and add a double glazed porch?

I've never know a town so actively and aggressively commited to destroying its heritage!
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 08:07:44 PM »
Was that BBC story actually 'live' and publicly available yesterday at: 1 September 2010 16:33  ? or was written and placed on their server at that time but embargoed until today? - the reason I ask is that a couple of people I know searched the BBC sites yesterday evening for traces of this story and nothing cropped up  ???

Anyhow, the time feels about right for me to share a few juicy crumbs of info about events leading up to Cllr Greenhalgh's ii-informed decision to entangle SBC and Swindon taxpayers in the mechanics at a time when the Council is about to make 1,000's of workers redundant.  Of course this wasn't 'the plan', but everyone except Cllr's Greenhalgh and Bluh know that the best laids plans go tits up when the 6 p's* are ignored in favour of greed and politics.


This particular chapter of the tale starts last year, but was apparently well underway by the 1st of October 2009 when Rod Bluh enjoyed a quiet dinner with Matthew to discuss, (as Rod Bluh's register of interests records), 'Town Centre Regeneration'.

But this wasn't the first dinner at which 'Town Centre Regeneration' was the main conversational course, because a little before the dinner with Roderick Bluh,  Matthew had been the bemused 'guest of', (in his own restaurent and probably at his own expense), of a well known local businessman and personal friend Cllr Bluh called Mr John 'Rikki' Hunt.

The conversation could be described as 'interesting', until the point at which Mr Hunt allegedly proposed a 'deal' to Matthew Singh which was quickly declined.   The rest, (as they say), is history.  I'm not going to discuss everything I think I know yet, but will go as far as saying I was not in the slightest bit surprised when Cllr Greenhalgh and his operative Dave Potter, (SBC Director of Planning & Transport), publicly announced that:

Quote
"Unless Mathew Singh, the current owner of the historic building in Emlyn Square, completes a series of urgent works the council would take it over. "


Even odder though, is that even in January 2010 the council was apparently well aware of:

 
Quote from: Dave Potter
"....the north part of the building where 95 per cent of problems with the building’s structure are.”


The adver also quoted Potter as saying, (in January 2010):

Quote from: Dave Potter
"he and his team would be taking an in-depth look at the building’s current state in a matter of days before telling Mr Singh exactly what needed to be done and when"



So why should Deputy leader of SBC Garry Perkins sound so surprised when he told the BBC:

Quote from: Garry Perkins
"What we have found is very depressing."

"It's obvious even at this stage that it's going to take much more money than we have earmarked to stabilise the structure."


Surely the 'In Depth' look actually was an 'In Depth' look?....or perhaps Matthew Singh had a valid point when he said of Dave Potter:

Quote from: Matthew Singh
“He is not a quantity surveyor he is a planner"



Also, why is Perkins taking the lead on this when this miasma was brewed up by Cllr Greenhalgh and SBC Director Dave Potter ?

What did they know?, and when did they know it? - particularly the SBC planning committe, to whom Dave Potter gave a full report in April 2010.

* proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

Offline moley

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 08:18:19 PM »

Was that BBC story actually 'live' and publicly available yesterday at: 1 September 2010 16:33  ? or was written and placed on their server at that time but embargoed until today? - the reason I ask is that a couple of people I know searched the BBC sites yesterday evening for traces of this story and nothing cropped up  ???


Geoff,

I did see the article on the BBC website yesterday... probably early evening??  so no reason not to believe the time on it - normally the timestamps are time published.

Moley

Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 08:28:21 PM »
Gary Perkins was been interviewed on Radio Swindon/Graham mack? show  this morning approx 8.00.  He  effectivley said Mechanics Institute going to cost a lot more than they thought and no idea where the money was going to come from!  He  did not have any confidence that they can reclaim it from mr Sigh!

The programme does not seem to be on BBC iplayer yet and was only half listening too it as getting ready to go to work.

Did anyone else hear him?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 08:42:52 PM »
Geoff,

I did see the article on the BBC website yesterday... probably early evening??  so no reason not to believe the time on it - normally the timestamps are time published.

Moley

Thanks :)  that means that Councillors reluctance to discuss it today is probably down the amounts of brown adrenaline flowing out of Euclid Street  ;D

They were told to stay away from the mechanics...but Rod's micro-cabinet knew best, (as always), and at the time the town can least afford any fiscally incompetent 'deal making' the pillocks have assumed legal responsibility for completing repairs that they said  they knew all about.

Just the latest example of 'Excellence' from Bluh's Euclid Street idiocracy.  Can't wait to see who they try to blame for this debacle.....

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 11:28:57 PM »
If our Council's Engineers know their job why did they persuade SBC to become involved in works on Mr Singh's property?

What are the financial liabilities incurred now that that SBC have effect taken responsibility for work to Mr Singh's property?

Who is going to take responsibility for this situation?

and finally

When are we going to be told the full truth?

Couldn't come at a better time for a cash strapped Council threatening its workforce with up to 3,000 redundancies having just lent £450,000 to a speculative business venture, without guarantees, in the form of Wi-fi
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 12:07:37 AM »

I'd start with Cllr's Nick Martin and Des Moffat who, in the late 80's apparently gave the Mechanics a large body swerve in favour of doing something with the County Ground.

What did they knowback then, that Cll's Bluh and Greenhalgh ignored in 2010 ?

Offline Drone

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 04:44:27 PM »
Cllr Martin is an interesting character - lethal if you cross him. He's stood up to Bluh a couple of times, so has been banished to the back seats at present. However, he does seem far more financially savvy than a lot of his colleagues, and far less willing to committ to grandiose vanity projects.

SBC's press treatment of the Mechanics' business is rather odd. They've obviously spent English Heritage's money, put up hoardings and had a wander around. now they are telling everyone who will listen that it's almost beyond repair and they don't have the money. It would be rather suspicious if, now that they've prepped us, the thing falls down...
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 07:03:43 PM »
If the Mechanics were to collapse now, or parts of it deliberately taken down to make it safe, and the Swindon Tax payer made to foot the bill....

...who, (from the available cast of locals),  would the Court of Public Opinion find morally responsible?

I think I'd point the finger jointly at Cllr Greenhalgh and Director of planning Dave Potter.


Incidentally, does anyone else find Cllr Perkins sudden appearance as Council spokesman on the Mechanics 'interesting' ?  Perhaps he's trying to project his 'leadership' qualities, (ahem), more than ever before....

...or is it part of a plan to politically protect Peter Greenhalgh, and therefore Cllr Bluh himself.

.. or is Perkins acutely aware that:


1. He's already a Director of one of Mr Hunts companies

2. A previous business proposition was alleged to have been advanced from Rikki Hunt to Matthew Singh regarding the Mechanics

2. A definite dinner date between Rod Bluh and Mr Singh happened shortly after Mr Hunts alleged proposition to Matthew Singh and shortly before supposedly cordial relations between them collapsed into threats of 'urgent works' and compulsory purchase

...and as such, Cllr Perkins has decided that the best method of self protection is to 'handle' the media interest himself, or, (as seems equally possible), Cllr Perkins political senses are telling him that the latest chapter in the Mechanics Institute history may prove to be a 'Bluh/Greenhalgh/Hunt' debacle too far, (and too expensive), for Bluh's position as leader to remain tenable.


Interesting times, eh?  Expensive ones too....

 






Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 07:15:58 PM »
Cllrs Nick Martin and Des Moffatt can easily speak for themselves on this matter. Both cllrs have expressed views in the past and I think you will find Des as housing chair, did what was possible to protect the building from deterioration and vandalism in the back end of the 80s early 90s.  The council had its own priorities in the 80s and early 90s and one was the sports ground/running track etc, which has been a boon to Swindon since it was built. A bit dated it maybe now and in pressing need of better changing facilities. None the less a well used facility.

I think that there is much about the mechanics on record and Cllrs making decisions in the 80s early 90s  have nothing to back peddle on about decisions made by council under the old committee system almost 20 years ago.

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Offline Des Moffatt

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2010, 10:23:50 AM »
The problem has always been finding a self sustaining end user for a refurbished Mechanics. When first on Swindon's (Thamesdown's) agenda the costs of recovery of the building was beyond the Councils capacity to fund (capital and ongoing revenue) and the then vendor, British Rail, refused to help.
While Thamesdown Council never ruled taking it out as an option, during negotiations with British Rail they sold it to the private sector.

Someone out there knows a thing or two.
Indeed as indicated in an earlier post, with the support of Nick Martin we persuaded the Arts and Rec Committee to spend the resources it did have on the running track.
We have no regrets whatever on that.

Des Moffatt

Offline Drone

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2010, 11:55:46 AM »
/\
Interesting points. The building would be very, very expensive to restore and it's still hard to think what it could be used for. Some of the suggestions (a museum, library or concert hall) aren't going to bring in money. they will cost even more money to set up and run.

The Mechanics' is a stunning building and a symbol of Swindon's industrial and cultural heritage. But...it's starting to feel like it's too late to save it.
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Offline Bogomil

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2010, 01:34:16 PM »
The mechanics has for many years been a thorn in the side of Swindon Council, dammed if they try to preserve it due to the high cost of repairs and maintenance , dammed if they don’t for the loss of this historic building. It’s just a lose lose situation that appears irresolvable due to the lack of, as Des rightly pints out, a self sustainable end use/user for the building. I also think that this has been particularly thwarted by the lack of parking in the area for any customers or users of the end uses that have been proposed over the years.

The original use of the Mechanics Institute for railway workers made it’s central site the most appropriate place, being as it is, within the centre of the railway village. The questions that comes to my mind however is have there ever been any proposals to move the Mechanics Institute to a more ideal location where an end use could be more self sustainable and whether there would be any heritage or legal restrictions to this being possible.

I know that this would mean re-sitting it outside its historical perspective, and would be extremely expensive, but if the long term preservation of the building is to be achieved, would it not be better to see it moved and reused rather than allowed to deteriorate in the way that it has been allowed to do for many years.

It’s been done for many other historic buildings and could be an option for the Mechanics Institute

http://www.buildinghistory.org/visit.shtml

Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2010, 02:04:45 PM »
Bogey has a point, Tabernacle and stones spring to mind as an example of what  is already underway in Swindon, the stones have been brought back to front a new forthcoming development; so anything is possible. The Millenium clock has been uprooted and will be resited outside the station. The only hiccup that has I can think that happened recently was to the Tramways Coat of arms off the old tram depot, which sadly was not saved despite proposals it would be. :(
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Offline moley

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2010, 02:11:49 PM »
is parking really that bad?

There's the NCP car park very nearby (to the right as you exit the underpass from the Outlet centre), and the Brunel + station car parks are < 5 minutes walk (plus the car park at the Outlet Centre).

This is no worse than (say) the Colston Hall in Bristol and much better than many other venues I can think of??

Moley

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2010, 03:55:32 PM »
The problem has always been finding a self sustaining end user for a refurbished Mechanics. When first on Swindon's (Thamesdown's) agenda the costs of recovery of the building was beyond the Councils capacity to fund (capital and ongoing revenue) and the then vendor, British Rail, refused to help.
While Thamesdown Council never ruled taking it out as an option, during negotiations with British Rail they sold it to the private sector.

Someone out there knows a thing or two.
Indeed as indicated in an earlier post, with the support of Nick Martin we persuaded the Arts and Rec Committee to spend the resources it did have on the running track.
We have no regrets whatever on that.

Des Moffatt

Thanks for clarifying that Des.

It appears that quiet 'retrospective blame briefings' are already going on as the Bluhligan idiocracy tries to pass the blame for its recent actions backwards through time onto other people.




Offline Muggins

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2010, 06:45:51 PM »
Can't help feeling that quite a few possible funding streams to doing with heritage building etc., have passed us by becasue we didn't own the building and people's mind were concentrated elsewhere, Lydiard for instance.
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2010, 09:04:49 PM »
Where are the Mechanics Trust at this critical time?

Awfully quite - Daniel Martha and co you have to step up to the mark now or you and the building you represent will be lost forever.

You could start right here by outlining your plans for the building and how you intend to sustain it?
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