Author Topic: SBC [Meaning Council Tax Payers] May Face £400,000+ Mechanics Institute Bill  (Read 64216 times)

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Offline Muggins

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That's Mart's Rockery!
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)

Offline Karsten

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....
1) The Trust's funding: .... The annual accounts of the Trust are prepared by the Trust's professional accountants and submitted to the relevant authorities, as well as being presented at Annual Meetings.

I attended a lot of the early AMs and the main question was always the accounts or lack of.
If the charity is so open, would it not help to simply publish them on the website?


3) ...... There is however a brick wall which is quite often hit - SBC.
This blame game has gone on and on.  It is clear something is in the way.
The council is not the only institution that could have issued Urgent Repairs.
EH has had 200k earmarked for the MI since 2002, but 50k would have been needed to be put up.
(Prescott emailed me about it the day before it was announced)
This is why fund raising should have been paramount.
Ownership is not really relevant if EH could have been persuaded to act.
Many groups on Restoration didn't own the buildings.


4) ..... The Trust is engaged in a range of work regarding the building but also broader issues as a registered Building Preservation Trust and a registered Development Trust.
The Trust was initially set up to save the MI, not any old building!  When the trust decided to expand its purpose with out succeeding in saving or acheiving anything,  a lot of people stopped being interested.
That's the point I want to make.  Something is wrong, if after 15yrs a Trust is still struggling with no funds and struggling to be taken seriously.

Perhaps more openess and better publication of issues been dealt with on the new-mechanics website would be helpfull.
How many certified members are there?
What funds are being collected?
Is there a dedicated account to the MI that people can donate to (suggested over 10yrs ago).
An account the trust can spend only when its got the building and only on the MI.
When are the annual meetings held. They aren't published very well. 
How many people attended the last one?


Offline Karsten

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Ps.
On ownership.
The previous owner and the current owner should not get a thing.
There is no need.
Both SBC and EH have powers to take ownership. 
Eg. The old rectory by the town gardens, and a house that was empty for 17 yrs were taken over by SBC without a penny.
Urgent Repair notices are on the owners cost, so SBC hasn't spent a penny yet unless it refuses to take over the building.  They are perfectly entitled to.  So can EH.
If Mr Singh valued it at 400k, more fool him.   He's done more than 400k of damage anyway.

Offline Daniel Rose

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If you attended "early AGM's" I can't fairly comment as I wasn't involved until 2003. If you had concerns then fine but I'm quite comfortable that the Trust's finances are professionally dealt with now and has as far as I can see been pre-2003 too.

As a registered charity and company the Trust's accounts are in the public domain anyway. We publish the annual accounts at AGM's in accordance with the law and they are normally presented by the Trust's independent accountant.

I can assure you that the BBC could not involve us due to the ownership situation.

If your view is that the Trust should just be about the Mechanics' alone then that is up to you. I absolutely believe that the Trust has the correct and exciting mix of objectives. In fact the Trust was very much ahead of the game in creating an organisation linking People and Place together and is now an increasingly popular model. The Trust has attracted interest from many national organisations and other local trusts. Just yesterday I was interviewed as part of a report being funded by EH into the future role of Building Preservation Trusts with our approach being seen as a great fit with the localism agenda and new thinking coming out of think tanks and other national heritage organisations.

The Trust is taken perfectly seriously by a range of partners but it is SBC that fail to engage with us and are operating at odds with all major and respected thinking on localism and heritage. However we remain committed to trying to get SBC to engage in what I think is a very exciting agenda and potential.

Without looking at the database I can't put an exact figure on supporters however it is roughly 2000 in the last few years but I have always admitted that there is a need to launch a membership campaign (as we haven't had the capacity to do so for several years). Financially and in terms of capacity it is tough to launch a membership renewal campaign each year. I'm hoping that in 2011 we should have the additional capacity required to deal with this.

We do not have a separate account for donations protected for the Institution at this stage. We do receive private donations generally and they contribute to the Trust's general fund. A specific Institution fund will be set up as and when it is deemed appropriate.

Annual Meetings are advertised to members directly and we sometimes put an announcement in the Adver. Annual Meetings are not public meetings they are for members to hear from the Board and vote. Most people run a mile when they see the word "AGM", however we have always had a quorum and usually 20-50 members attend. Last year the Trust ran 2/3 public meetings from memory as well as specific presentations to other audiences.


Offline I Could Do That

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This thread has improved immensely, since I first started reading it.
At that time, it consisted of several people asking pedantic questions, as to why The Trust were not in contact with Mr Singh (not very approachable person?)
It is certainly less than fair to blame the trust, for preventing restoration of the MI. The previous plans, paticularly the ten storey abortion, were not restoration bids. As someone else has already stated, if the building crumbles, to become no more than a rockery, it will still be our heritage. If it is taken apart (Ten storey was being accepted, on the premise that MI is 3 buildings???)  and buried under glass & metal tat, it will be seriously undermined.
I attended the 150th anniversary of the MI. The BBC Restoration crew were there. The BBC team would love to have seen the building represented, but no support was given by SBC, and there was the ownership issue. In this aspect the trust have worked extremely well to preserve (the concept of) the MI.
As previously stated blaming the trust is a bit like helping Goliath to throw stones at David.
I have no objection to SBC putting up the funds for the emergency repairs. I hope they get thd funds returned, as I blame Mr Singh for (removing tiles) causing the damage. I am also happy to make substantial donations, of my own money & time, but SBC need to initiate civic pride in our town and it's heritage, beyond bloody hotels, houses, and bloody flats, otherwise volunteers are just peeing into the wind.
The Newbridge Memo was runner up, in the BBC Restoration series. The MI is a much grander, significant building
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-12385580
Also check out New Lanark
http://www.newlanark.org/
Let's get behind the trust, and instal some pride in our town, for a change
Proud to be gone

Offline Daniel Rose

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Quote
keep the questions factual, open minded and of constructive challenge etc and I'm happy to join in.


Very fair Daniel

Would you be happy to meet with me to discuss my 'plan' which when submitted to Coun Bluh was considered 'very interesting' but not in the end 'interesting enough' for hime to accpet an offer to take him on a freebie to Wales to see what i cocnsider to a be a credible alternative to imply allowing the MI to deteriorate to nothing more than Muggins 'rockery' - despite 3 invitations?

Send me the details and I will be happy to look at them and give you my fair and honest opinion. I'm afraid that my diary is blocked up with Trust and work committments for the next few weeks but perhaps you can explain more to me then. You can e-mail me at: mail@mechanics-trust.org.uk

Offline Daniel Rose

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 Thank you "I Could Do That".  :)

Offline Des Morgan

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Quote
I have no objection to SBC putting up the funds for the emergency repairs. I hope they get the funds returned

The last bit of this quote is interesting, I wonder if this will be yet another 'loss'

Offline I Could Do That

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Being optimistic/dreaming/cuckoo, I hope it won't be a  loss.
Although "a loss" can be measured beyond finance.
I hope that Swindon doesn't have "a loss" of it's precious remaining  heritage.
I realise my views are somewhat idealist, but I'm sure the victorians had less disposable income than we have nowadays, and Swindon sure needs a kick up the backside, in the civic pride department.
Proud to be gone

Offline Karsten

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If your view is that the Trust should just be about the Mechanics' alone then that is up to you. ...

It is actually why the trust was formed, go and look up the original foundation and rules.
Martha & co changed it with a show of hands at a very poorly advertised AGM.

Quote
Without looking at the database I can't put an exact figure on supporters however it is roughly 2000 in the last few years but I have always admitted that there is a need to launch a membership campaign (as we haven't had the capacity to do so for several years). Financially and in terms of capacity it is tough to launch a membership renewal campaign each year. I'm hoping that in 2011 we should have the additional capacity required to deal with this.

How did I know it would be roughly 2000.. probably because the same number has been used since it formed. 15yrs +

When I joined the £1 was a one off membership fee.  It it still a one off joining fee?
Am I a member, I paid the one pound, but I've not had any emails about AGMs?
Not since the Trust's aim and purpose were changed from preserving the fabric of the Mechanics to preserving all old building in Swindon and surrounding area.
My email is the same as in 98 and so is my address.

I'd like to challenge the Trust to raise just 1/10th of its claimed followers to do a fund raising event.
Simply ask members to meet up at Faringdon rd park one Saturday morning, to do a support march and hand out sealed collection tins to groups, then do a impromptu walk to the Outlet Village thru to Steam thru the tunnel and into the Brunel and Town centre.  Have a Penny reading or Railway theme.
Walk in a people train. Make it fun.
If you can't get a few hundred to turn up, then I'd say you do not have 2000 members and very little support.

Would people in this forum like to make it a race?   See if the Trust or this forum has more support.
Bit like the Gadget show challenges? Or a mob flash?

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We do not have a separate account for donations protected for the Institution at this stage. We do receive private donations generally and they contribute to the Trust's general fund. A specific Institution fund will be set up as and when it is deemed appropriate.


Back in '98 when I sat in on general meeting and Mike Welch was there.  The issue of funding was raised and the setup of a locked account was deemed a goal.   
Somehow it always got shoved aside and when question were raised and fund raising was suggested the same happened.
15 yrs later and you use the term at “this stage”?”

Quote
Annual Meetings are advertised to members directly and we sometimes put an announcement in the Adver. Annual Meetings are not public meetings they are for members to hear from the Board and vote. Most people run a mile when they see the word "AGM", however we have always had a quorum and usually 20-50 members attend. Last year the Trust ran 2/3 public meetings from memory as well as specific presentations to other audiences.


If you are getting the same amount of people as back in ’98 turning up to AGMs (5%<) then you have not increased your membership number, and not improved on alerting members about the AGMs which a charity is legally bound to do.
How many email addresses do you have in your list? Telephone numbers?
Do you still charge members to attend AGMs?

As for the AGM and list of members
http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/FAQS/Running_a_charity/governance/82.aspx
http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc48.aspx#23

“We advise charities to maintain an accurate and up to date list of members. It can lead to criticism from the membership or challenges to decisions taken if any current members are not invited to the AGM due to incompetent record keeping”

I’m not against the Trust in principle, but I got fed up with the excuses and dictatorship in the early days. 
Has anything changed?  Sounds like status quo to me. 
I bet I’m as unwelcome as back then.
If the Trustees are not the same people as back in 98-2000 and the Trust seriously would like to get out of the mud, I’d be interested in raising some ideas.
I’m sure you’ve seen some of them on my seriously outdated website.

If  the Trust wants the building, now is the time to act.
The urgent repairs have been served, the building is de roofed.
Get EH or SBC to take the building and pass it on.
Contact any and all restoration charities afresh and see if there is going to be a 3rd series of Restoration.
Start a new lottery bid.
But to do that you MUST show the Trust can raise funds and is organized its self!
You have to prove your membership and support.
If not the Trust will forever be a Trust in name only and will not have any.

Well that’s my opinion. 
Actions speak louder than words.
Balamory!

Offline Daniel Rose

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This is yet more posts from you that distort the truth and undermine the Trust for whatever your personal agenda is. Frankly this is doing little for a healthy, open and constructive debate. It will just block up the forum and limit decent discussion where people are open to learning and entering into open dialogue.

This is not a good use of my time and effort and is neither helping the Mechanic's Institution or the work programme of the Trust.

ph1lc

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That reply Daniel is exactly, I would suggest why the trust have after all these years got precisely nowhere, and never will.
Both you and your predecessor come across with the attitude of agree with me or you are wrong.

Offline Daniel Rose

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Not at all. Have you dealed with me in the real world? I'm just not playing these games online with personal agendas.


Offline Muggins

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"It is actually why the trust was formed, go and look up the original foundation and rules.
Martha & co changed it with a show of hands at a very poorly advertised AGM"

Not necessarily about the Trust, but comments like this get right up my nose.  At AGM's it is an opportunity for members to make changes to a committee, and the best way to do that is vote people off and or stand yourself.  Changes cannot be made to Mem and articles without due process and part of that again is to turn up at AGM and make your protest. 

If things are not right in any org like the Trust, it is a much the fault of the members as it is the trustees.  Non attendance at AGM's is just a way of saying, you carry on, we don't mind how you do it. Turning up and not making protest is just as bad if not worse.  Of course if you are out voted then you have to stick with the majority of those turning up to make a Quorum and lump it.   

Has anyone considered that when it comes to personalities, that once an org elects that person or persons to be their voice, the rest of us have to acknowledge the wishes of the org and deal with that person.
It is not for those outside an org to choose the orgs reps for them, neither usually is it actually legal!.

Most of the time, there are moaners about those that have put their hand up at AGM's, that would never take on/over that position themselves.

Mostly I have found they know a little about the org itself, and it's basic principles but have no idea what it takes to manage an org or project.
A little knowledge being a dangrous thing!

A bit of basic training in 'how to' uncovers the well known 'Playboy attitude'  that of seemingly not being with an org whilst constantly nit picking and sniping at it.  It is well known under the column of 'unhelpful behaviour'. 

I can assure Karsten that most organisations have many more members than turn up at AGM's.  If an Incorporated org, it must attract to it's AGM's a certain number or % to make it a legal meeting.
Martha and co (as Karsten put's it) are wise enough not to hold AGMs other than set out in their Memorandum and Articles.

The Trust has come a long way................those outside of it have learned not a lot.
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)

Offline Tobes

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The Trust has come a long way................those outside of it have learned not a lot.

Has it? Haven't a cynical Swindon public got the evidence of their own eyes to go on?

NOTHING changes... the buildng continues to rot, the Trust blames the council - and when criticism is leveled at The Trust because of its observable failure (a building rotting away for the last 25 years) - people's concerns are dissmissed as being 'personal agendas'. Is it that simple?

What ever the truth, one fact remains clear. If the Trust has failed to raise public support, then it will never achieve is stated objective. Instead of being a campaigning force for change, it may simply have become a cosy club of people who make ocassional staments (usually to blame other parties), but actually fail to achieve the one thing that they apparently want. 'Personal agendas' apply just as much perhaps to the Trust as they do to anyone else.
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 Muggins

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Come on Tobes, working in the Vountary Sector you must know how long it takes to get things done and the bigger the thing, the longer it takes.

To keep interested and keep interest, especially among volunteers, then very often projects like the MI diverify and 'keep hands busy' in the meantime, so long as the group work towards their aims so be it.

It's not just up to the Trust to rebuild the building - it's up to them to keep up the awareness, campaign etc., and despite the negativity shown to it through these pages, that is just what is happening.  I just cannot understand the antithapy to the trust itself?   

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)

Offline I Could Do That

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"It's not just up to the Trust to rebuild the building - it's up to them to keep up the awareness, campaign etc., and despite the negativity shown to it through these pages, that is just what is happening.  I just cannot understand the antithapy to the trust itself?   "

If the trust hadn't existed, the MI would have been torn up years ago, for another bloody hotel, or flats.
The one criticism I would make, is that the public need to know WHY the building is so precious.
I tried to explain in an earlier thread, but I'm no expert.
We must bear in mind, that the trust are not a political group, or a goverment organisation, merely goodwilled, community people, that care.
SBC surely have a duty, to at least understand the history of Swindon.
Gary Perkins said on BBC Wilts., that the MI was a railway club, that shut in the 60s (d'oh!)
Mind you this is the person that hasn't heard of 3G, for internet.
Proud to be gone

ph1lc

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Antipathy to the trust is simple - if 4 years ago they had not existed Mr Singh would have got planning permission and the blot would have been removed from the landscape.

But 4 years down the line, despite the trust's continual sniping nothing has happened , and now the taxpayers of the borough look to be £400K out of pocket.

Offline Tobes

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Come on Tobes, working in the Vountary Sector you must know how long it takes to get things done and the bigger the thing, the longer it takes.

To keep interested and keep interest, especially among volunteers, then very often projects like the MI diverify and 'keep hands busy' in the meantime, so long as the group work towards their aims so be it.

Oh don't get me wrong Mugsy, I've never doubted the Trust's motivations - its more about their failure to put their desires into any meaningful form of action that I'm sceptical of. Yup, working in the voluntary sector has proven to me that there are all sorts of barriers and complexities to being able to do the right thing - but (sadly) its also true that amongst the voluntary sector are also groups of people who lack the competance to achieve what they'd like to do. Also, certain groups can become institutionalised into thinking that their view is the only valid one - and that the rest of the public can be ignored.

I want the Mechanics saved - but if a group has had 15+ years to do it, and arguably has actually put barriers in place that might have sealed its ultimate doom, then I think we're all entitled to express some serious doubt about their abilities.

For example, extending the remit of the Trust to 'all' Swindon's historic buildings looks daft if they still haven't managed to solve the issue for which they originally came into being.

I know I'm being cynical - but there the building stands, rotting - as clear a piece of evidence as you can get. Much of what Karsten has said chimes with me. Perhaps the Trust should accept some of the public criticism rather than bridle at it or dismiss it, and try and think of a new and more intelligent way of working? Otherwise, they'll continue to lose support amongst the very people who should be their strongest advacates - the people of Swindon.
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 MikeHeal

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Somehow I put this in the wrong post:
Here's a thought,
In 1997 I was asked to be part of a development team as part of my role as head of Music of Redcar and Cleveland College, to create a new Performing Arts centre,
 A detailed consultation process was undertaken and as a result I was personally involved in seeking funding to make the project happen. By the end of 1999 we had raised over 1 million pounds for the building of this centre with the greatest majority coming from European Social funding in total £500,000.
If this building is central to our community and its current owner is willing to send and there is already a group willing to move a project forward why don’t the council work with this group and seek out the funding available in this month’s funding digest (a email I receive every month form Swindon Borough Council) this possible starting point: Heritage Lottery – Townscape Heritage initiative this initiative offers To help communities to regenerate historic parts of their towns and cities.
It is open to Non profit organisations and can offer help £500,000 to £2,000,000.
This is just one and only a quick scan I am sure that the EU social fund will have plenty more options.
I think I still have on discs all of the work I did in the late 90’s. If I can do this from a sick bed how is not possible that our Council can’t do it with all their talented officers?
I for one would love to see the provision of a Performing Arts centre with dance studios, recording facilities, conference centre and Theatre space The list could go on. This building could do all of these things and provide a great community resource.
People need to think out of the box.