Author Topic: Lamplighters: Mechanics Institute In Imminent Danger Of Collapse?  (Read 47884 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #60 on: September 15, 2010, 10:22:29 AM »

I'm sure I remember Dave Potter, SBS Director of Planning, saying a long time ago that SBC were well aware that 95% of the buildings structural problems were in the North end...

...And then, in April 2010(?), submitted a 'full report' to either the council or the planning committee.

So: what did they know and when did they know it?

It seems to me that Des Moffat and Nick Martin knew enough to avoid it like the plague over a decade ago but their experience & knowledge was more recently ignored by those hoping to turn a fast political buck, and perhaps a lot of real ones.

Mixing local politics and business, (swindon-style), cause nothing but grief and expense for taxpayers and community groups alike.

Offline PAV

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #61 on: September 15, 2010, 10:24:25 AM »
Before people get too carried away, remember that the building still belongs to Mr Singh's Forefront Estates. As noted previously by Mr Wakefield, it only ceases to do so if he is unable or unwilling to pay when SBC presents a bill to him for the repair work. At which point SBC may (but is not obliged) to compulsorily purchase the building. The expectation in the regulations is that they then try and sell the building on to recover their costs, and that whoever they sell it on to must have the wherewithal to restore and maintain the building. Handing the building over to a charity with next-to-no resources is not an option.

Having seen the way Matthew Singh and his commercial plans have been treated, who on Earth would buy the building off the council if they did aquire it?

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #62 on: September 15, 2010, 12:19:13 PM »
Daniel, the trouble for you is that SBC can and undoubtedly will ignore you and the Trust otherwise they would be in discusssions with you over the future of the building.

Remember Crossroads?  Did they engage with you over the future of that building and facility?

You know the answer so what has changed?

Why are we to believe that SBC do not have their own agenda and planned outcome?

Sadly I believe they are under no obligation to engage with you.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 02:49:46 PM by Richard Symonds »
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Offline Tobes

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #63 on: September 15, 2010, 12:32:40 PM »
Whatever the future of The Mechanics might be, it has to be realistic, achievable - and more important than anything else, FUNDED. Consequently, The Trust is almost irrelevant to its salvation, except for presenting yet another list of barriers and cost escalations to any potential investor. In fact, to that extent, it could be argued that The Trust probably bear more individual responsibility for its eventual complete destruction than any other organisation.

What exactly has the Trust 'achieved' in the last 15 years? Has the Trust done any work on the building? Has the trust raised funds to ensure its preservation? I'm confused.

SBC are very unlikely to CP it I would have thought - what a political millstone that would be. They'd bear the blame for its continual decay, have to try and fund penny packets of repair work on over stretched budgets and hope (beyond hope) to divest themselves of it to someone prepared to try and square the circle of making the place pay for itself whilst satisfying the completely unrealistic pipe-dreams of The Trust and meeting the obligations of its grade 2 listing. (So, a billionaire on drugs then.)

Goodbye Mechanics. Its going to continue to decay until such point that its declared unsafe, and get CP'd for demolition or it'll 'catch fire'. Utterly predictable.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #64 on: September 15, 2010, 01:04:31 PM »

From my perspective I thinks Tobes has hit the nail squarely on the head.

Btw, who applied to have the building listed?

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #65 on: September 15, 2010, 01:33:59 PM »
Sorry Geoff

I stick by my description Of Martha Parry as an old windbag.

Every time the owners have tried to bring forward plans for the building she has been the first to object, whilst offering no realistic possibility of actually doing anything to save the building.

The re development cannot be done with Grant based funding, unless it is effectively underwritten by the council. Look how much steam cost the taxpayer - SBC couldn't shut it without paying back the grants.

Best thing is to let Mr Singh negotiate with English Heritage and for the MIPT to disband and say absolutely nothing.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #66 on: September 15, 2010, 01:57:34 PM »
Ph1Ic you are very unkind about our Martha.

I know from personal experience that she is not easy to work with and she makes things unecessarily difficult for both herself and those around her.

Sadly she has pissed off a number of important people over the years and they will do everything possible to avoid her.  As a realist I am sure that in her heart she is aware of this fact.

But, you could never take away her dedication and ambition for this project and the people of Swindon.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #67 on: September 15, 2010, 02:06:38 PM »
I agree with Richard about Martha, but when she speaks she does NOT speak just for herself, the donkey work of consultation has been done, and passed by the Mechanics Trust trustees. 

Martha is merely a knowledgable  front person with the time to be at the places they need representation.  I say 'merely' not to tak away the amount of time and research she personally has done for the cause.

I KNOW that they will be able to achieve the things they set out to do, have no doubt it is do-able.  They have friends in the right places of other agencies to achieve this. But Daniel is correct, nothing will move until SBC gets into some sort of sensible dialogue with them, instead of talking the ideas down all the time.

It is soooo wrong not to respond to something just because of the personality of the front person.  There are proper ways to deal with this via talking to the Trust.   



 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #68 on: September 15, 2010, 02:23:18 PM »
No Muggins you are completely wrong. Swindon Council, save the short term reapair they are undertaking should not have anything to do with this building.

What the trust aim to produce is an entirely un- neccesary white elephant. Their plans are ridiculous. It is a total non starter without Swindon Council effectively underwriting the project. Something that, with the numbers of staff the Council are having to fire is not going to happen -surely Bluh is not that raving!


The trust are entirely irrelevant. They can best serve the building by saying and doing nothing.

The only way is to find a commercial solution.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #69 on: September 15, 2010, 02:26:36 PM »

I can't agree with you Muggins. Unless a remarkably wealthy benefactor purchases the building from Matthew Singh and gifts it to the MIPT, (and I don't belive the MIPT is financially able to fulfill listed building obligations either), hoping that SBC will partner with the trust and underwrite a restoration seems vanishingly unlikely at best.

I've received an email from Daniel regarding my invitation for the Trust to 'fess up. I don't expect him to make any public comments on my comments.

I also think it's absurd for the trust or SBC to be discussing the future of the building whilst apparently ignoring the inconvenient fact that neither body owns it.

I'll think I'd like to speak to Matthew Singh again soon although I expect much we would discuss would remain confidential for the time being.

I see a court case looming.

Offline asilsekwah

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #70 on: September 15, 2010, 02:44:02 PM »
The current diabolical situation with the ongoing state of works with the Mechanics building is literally and figuratively CRIMINAL. Literally (not many people are aware of this) because it is a criminal offense to neglect, structurally change without planning permission or damage a Grade II* listed building. Figuratively because as a Trustee of the NMIPT I have seen us repeatedly and continually shut out of discussions with the council and other “interested” parties.

How the council can go on record as being ‘surprised’ at the poor state of the roof and condition of the building is beyond belief and unbelievably obtuse. Over the last 15 years the Trust has continually drawn attention to the deterioration and damage being done to the building, while also offering constructive and viable options for the renovation, usage and on costs.

Despite the Trust’s many achievements over the years;

*Applying for and getting the II* Heritage listing
 *Listed Building consent for our plans
* Successfully running the Community Crossroads for 6 years
*Support from the Victorian Society, The Theatres Trust, Association of Preservation Trusts, The Architectural Heritage Fund, The RSA, and the National Trust
*Having 2000+ members

we have been consistently marginalised, ignored and shut out by SBC; even to the point where individual Trustee’s have been publically and privately insulted and belittled. The Council’s “powers” in this are not to be underestimated. They can compulsory purchase the building and transfer it to a Development Trust (which the NMIPT is), through the Asset Transfer Scheme for very little or even no cost to the local taxpayer. It is high time that SBC pulled its collective head out of the sand and worked constructively with the WHOLE community to save one of Swindon’s most prominent, historical and well known buildings.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #71 on: September 15, 2010, 02:54:14 PM »

Thanks for answering my question re: who applied for listed building status - the trust did, on a building it didn't own or have any realistic grounds for assuming that it ever would own.

Tobe's opinion just gained extra credibility I think.

Offline asilsekwah

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #72 on: September 15, 2010, 03:56:11 PM »
If Mr Reid had bothered to read the last paragraph of my post, he would realise that the Mechanics Trust has very REAL grounds for 'assuming' we could obtain ownership of the building through the Asset Transfer Scheme. A perfect, even larger scale example of this is the Coin Street Development in London. They of course had the luxury of a local council that was willing to work with, and support the members of the community who worked so hard to make the development a success. The only reason the council are undertaking the current works are because of our representaions at the Central Area Action Plan Inquiry in July 2008.

Offline PAV

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #73 on: September 15, 2010, 04:03:16 PM »
I'm afriad I agree with ph1lc. The Mechanics Trust are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Anyone who thinks the Trust's ideas are "constructive and viable options" are living in cloud cookoo land.

I too would be interested what Matthew Singh thinks of it all, frankly I imagine he would absolutely love for the council to "compulsory" purchase it off him, which I believe has to be at a commercial rate and would undoubtedly cost the Swindon taxpayer a seven figure sum.

Offline Mellon

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #74 on: September 15, 2010, 04:38:32 PM »
If Mr Reid had bothered to read the last paragraph of my post, he would realise that the Mechanics Trust has very REAL grounds for 'assuming' we could obtain ownership of the building through the Asset Transfer Scheme. A perfect, even larger scale example of this is the Coin Street Development in London. They of course had the luxury of a local council that was willing to work with, and support the members of the community who worked so hard to make the development a success. The only reason the council are undertaking the current works are because of our representaions at the Central Area Action Plan Inquiry in July 2008.

eh?
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #75 on: September 15, 2010, 05:13:56 PM »
If Mr Reid had bothered to read the last paragraph of my post, he would realise that the Mechanics Trust has very REAL grounds for 'assuming' we could obtain ownership of the building through the Asset Transfer Scheme.

I did read your post but I'm afraid it served only to convince me further that the trust has a sense of 'ownership entitlement' which has has directly contributed to the demolition debacle happening in front of our eyes.

The actions of the trust and SBC are morally unsupportable, in my honest opinion, because both have deliberately worked against the owner of the building instead of working with him towards a sustainable and realistic compromise which would have seen the Mechanics mostly preserved in private and profitab le ownership.

With 2,000 members I would have thought raising private capital to purchase the building from Matthew Singh would have been quite easy, especially given the length of time the trust has been about?

Offline asilsekwah

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #76 on: September 15, 2010, 05:18:02 PM »
For all the detractors of the Trust's work - most of you have never been to our offices on East Street,  met the current Trustees or seen our plans for the building. The issues are undoubtedly complicated and convaluted. I beg you to come in and see us. If you have given our plans a fair hearing and still disagree, fair play. You have a right to your opinions, but if they are made public they should be INFORMED opinions. Some of the postings here are simply a result of rumour and misinformation. We have nothing to hide and are quite proud of the 15 years work done by members.

Offline asilsekwah

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #77 on: September 15, 2010, 05:26:22 PM »
'Private and Profitable' ownership......a legitimate point. If there were viable commercial uses for the building, while still preserving the heritage value of the building,  the past and current owners would have been able to proceed with development,
and would have got listed building consent for the whole of the site. The obvious commercial use of a hotel would have to be so large and out of scale that it would detrimentally impact the village residents. It would also destroy any chance of the area achieving World Heritage Status. This status would mean so much more to the long term status of the town, than simply having another hotel.

Offline asilsekwah

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #78 on: September 15, 2010, 05:29:41 PM »
And to Mellon RE: your 'eh',  this is what I mean about the issue being complicated! Sites like this serve a valuable function but we cant explain everything here....please come see us!  You'll be glad to read....thats all from me today! ;)

Offline Mellon

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Re: Lamplighters 20: Mechanics Institute
« Reply #79 on: September 15, 2010, 06:18:28 PM »
And to Mellon RE: your 'eh',  this is what I mean about the issue being complicated! Sites like this serve a valuable function but we cant explain everything here....please come see us!  You'll be glad to read....thats all from me today! ;)

eh?......its not complicated, your just being (in my opinion) very reservist with your info making it not easy to follow.....
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