Talkswindon

Town Planning, Housing Developments, Transport & Education => The Mechanics Institute => Topic started by: Del on June 02, 2006, 03:55:11 PM

Title: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Del on June 02, 2006, 03:55:11 PM
(http://www.swindonweb.com/guid/mech1.jpg)
(http://www.swindonweb.com/guid/mech2.jpg)

Shouldn't this be a crime?  This is a 2* listed building, meaning it's in the top 6% of recognised important buildings in the UK, and yet it's rotting before our very eyes.

This building is an important part of our heritage, not just locally but nationally.  The NHS was based on some of the work performed by the orginal Institute back in the 1840's, and it was lending books 9 years before the first Public Library opened in Manchester. 

In my honest opinion, if the railway was the heart of the town, then this building represented it's soul and shows what can be done when people come together for the common good, rather than self interest.

So what is going on with the Institute? Does anyone here know?  Do any of the Councillors who post here have a view as to the future of this building?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Simon on June 02, 2006, 06:23:14 PM
I believe it's currently owned by someone called Matthew Singh, who wanted to turn it into a hotel, complete with a great big glass tower growing out the top of it.

(http://www.indymedia.org.uk/images/2005/04/308851.jpg)

That planning application was subsequently withdrawn and I don't think Mr Singh has announced any new plans.

Meanwhile the New Mechanics Institute Preservation Trust (http://www.new-mechanics.com/) are trying to get the building turned over to the community.

For as long as I can remember, this building has been derelict, fenced off and boarded up, and it is an absolute crying shame.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on June 02, 2006, 06:47:27 PM
I think its a crying shame and a continuing civic embarassment. A cynic might be tempted to wonder whether the various parties involved are just sitting back, waiting for it to decay to a point at which it'll be unsafe and condemmed... Then 'someone' will be sitting on a nice piece of real estate - for guess what? Another souless Swindon high density flat development, or a bunch of bars, rendering the place a no-go area for anyone without a can of mace after 9.00pm. I hope all parties can come to a sensible compromise which will allow some changes to the building whilst preserving its overall character. At least if its USED it won't just simply rot into the ground.

I've a book of photo's of old Swindon here - and this place at the turn of the century was a pretty red bricked town, full of tree lined avenues and interesting buildings. It seems anything will be sacrificed on the altar of short term greed - I hope anyone who's had a hand in the major planning decisions of the last fifty years is tortured with guilt when they walk the litter strewn and grey concrete streets that their shortsightedness has bequeathed us. No wonder the kids treat their surroundings with such complete contempt. Whenever I see the 'Swindon and Proud of it' campaign, I can't help hoping for their sake that its supporters have poor eyesight, because when it comes to the destruction and decay of pleasant architecture, Swindon must plumb the bottom of the polls. I'm not proud of the look of the place - and I can't imagine anyone is...

What a shame that those responsible for what's happening over at Coate haven't learned the lessons of the past eh?

Come on councillors, why can't you finally resolve this long running issue?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Del on June 08, 2006, 02:29:54 PM
It's embarrasing whenever friends of mine who aren't local see this building, because they always ask what it is and why it's in that state.  After I tell them I always feel a little ashamed because the state of the Mechanics Institute reflects on out town as a whole, and how people see the town.

I also notice our elected representatives have not posted in here (yet)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: johndoyle on June 08, 2006, 10:12:19 PM
a great shame that this building is left to rot. A bit of railway/town history.  All that money being earmarked for town centre redevelopment and they can't seem to fit it into the plans in any imaginative way.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: mjad on June 09, 2006, 06:38:55 AM
until Matthew Singh decides he wants to sell it there is nothing SBC can do in reality as it's his building (sadly!)  :bash:

as for my views - ask Martha Parry - she will tell you i have always been in favour of doing something positive over this

the plans for the hotel were just bad news & i did speak out at the planning meeting on this (as well as on BBC Swindon) - we only get 1 go at this & must get it right.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Del on June 09, 2006, 07:26:24 AM
Thanks for your reply Michael.

Your post does however raise a few points:

 - Has SBC approached Matthew Singh and offered to buy the building from him?

 - Given it's status as a 2* listed building, can the council or some other body (National Trust maybe?) go down the Compulsory Purchase route if he doesn't want to sell?



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: kecl on June 09, 2006, 11:24:47 AM
until Matthew Singh decides he wants to sell it there is nothing SBC can do in reality as it's his building (sadly!)  :bash:

as for my views - ask Martha Parry - she will tell you i have always been in favour of doing something positive over this

the plans for the hotel were just bad news & i did speak out at the planning meeting on this (as well as on BBC Swindon) - we only get 1 go at this & must get it right.

mjad,  what would you as one of our Central Cllrs.  like to see happening to the mechanics?
Maybe you could invite Martha to partake in this discussion.

Personally I think the Mechs. Trusts plans for the building look great and as John Doyle pointed out with all the developments going on in the town centre there must be pots of money flying around.  Surely it's not impossible for the council to redirect cash, 106 monies maybe,  in the direction of the Mechanics? 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Peach on June 09, 2006, 11:28:33 AM
there must be pots of money flying around.  Surely it's not impossible for the council to redirect cash, 106 monies maybe,  in the direction of the Mechanics? 

How about the £26 million that's been earmarked for new council offices?  I know where I'd rather see the money spent.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: mjad on June 09, 2006, 12:02:02 PM

mjad,  what would you as one of our Central Cllrs.  like to see happening to the mechanics?

i would like to see the building being used for something community based, although there may be some need for some commercial activity to pay for the conversions

Quote
Maybe you could invite Martha to partake in this discussion.

Personally I think the Mechs. Trusts plans for the building look great and as John Doyle pointed out with all the developments going on in the town centre there must be pots of money flying around.  Surely it's not impossible for the council to redirect cash, 106 monies maybe,  in the direction of the Mechanics? 

at the moment it is owned by Singh & until he is prepared to sell it there will be nothing happening.

Perhaps John Doyle would like to tell us why the labour group did not buy it for £1 when they were in control if he / they are so interested in saving it?

IMHO it would cost millions now (got a rough idea how much Singh brought it for & what the costs to date would have cost & how much work is urgently needed)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Geoff Reid on June 09, 2006, 12:10:15 PM

....hmmmm, if the Legislature & Regulatory Reform Bill gets through Parliament it's entirely possible Annie could Annex the Mechanics Institute and take it under the wing of Snelgrovia, (formerly known as 'Swindon').

It would make an imposing seat of feudal power........

Alternatively, add £5 per swindon resident to nexts years council tax and purchase it on our behalf.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Del on June 09, 2006, 01:04:49 PM

Alternatively, add £5 per swindon resident to nexts years council tax and purchase it on our behalf.

I quite like this idea, however I fear many Swindon residents may not feel quite so civic minded.   :(

As far as commercial uses as pointed out by mjad, why not allow some of the businesses in Swindon to pay to use areas for conference/meeting/training facilities?  Once the building is restored, it will probably be one of the most prestigious buildings in the town, and will be a great way to showcase what Swindon and any business in Swindon is about.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: kecl on June 09, 2006, 01:05:01 PM


at the moment it is owned by Singh & until he is prepared to sell it there will be nothing happening.

Perhaps John Doyle would like to tell us why the labour group did not buy it for £1 when they were in control if he / they are so interested in saving it?

IMHO it would cost millions now (got a rough idea how much Singh brought it for & what the costs to date would have cost & how much work is urgently needed)

I noticed in the adver a few weeks ago there was to be a meeting with SBC, Mechanics Trust,  Anne Snelgrove and Mr Singh but i haven't seen the outcome of this meeting,  do you have any details mjad?
 
The politics of who could or should have purchased the building in the past is to me not relevent, it wasn't purchased for whatever reason and nothing can change that.  What is important is 20 years down the road since its closure, nothing has happened except the slow decay and destruction of a once fine building (excepting the tower which looks hideous) and nothing seems to be happening now. 
Surely if this Towns image is to improve the Council should be forcing ways forward to see the renovation of this building, there's plenty of effort and money being put into upgrading the town centre,  or is Swindons railway/working class past best swept under the carpet? ::)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: mjad on June 09, 2006, 03:52:42 PM

I noticed in the adver a few weeks ago there was to be a meeting with SBC, Mechanics Trust,  Anne Snelgrove and Mr Singh but i haven't seen the outcome of this meeting,  do you have any details mjad?

was invited to this meeting, but could not make it as was at work.  not been told of the outcomes.
Quote

The politics of who could or should have purchased the building in the past is to me not relevent, it wasn't purchased for whatever reason and nothing can change that.  What is important is 20 years down the road since its closure, nothing has happened except the slow decay and destruction of a once fine building (excepting the tower which looks hideous) and nothing seems to be happening now. 



Surely if this Towns image is to improve the Council should be forcing ways forward to see the renovation of this building, there's plenty of effort and money being put into upgrading the town centre,  or is Swindons railway/working class past best swept under the carpet? ::)


i really would like to see the history of the town saved - esp. the railway history as one born in the town (even though none of my family were inside)!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: johndoyle on June 09, 2006, 06:32:34 PM

Perhaps John Doyle would like to tell us why the labour group did not buy it for £1 when they were in control if he / they are so interested in saving it?


some time before my involvement in local politics I'm afraid so no idea about the whys and wherefors. Does seem to be a bit of a mistake if it was available for £1. Generally though, a £1 deal has some other strings attached.

Bill Cullen bought Renault Ireland for £1. Whilst he bought the brand, assets etc he also bought millions of debt with it and had to work extremely hard to make the deal work for him.

I can only surmise that there was perhaps more risk than would have been acceptable to a Council. The usual phrase perhaps applies - if it looks too good to be true, it is.

Today though, we have a huge scheme in place to re-generate the town centre.  Seems a shame not to try and include the Mechanics Institute in some way.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: mjad on June 09, 2006, 06:59:10 PM
john - i am not letting this go, but it's very much a long game!  there is decades of history around the whole Railway Village being let go - so trying to reverse some of the less succesful decisions is not easy - e.g. the bed sits
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: johndoyle on June 09, 2006, 07:25:26 PM
there have definitely been some bad decisions here. It would be good to get all parties working to agree a joint policy on history and heritage.

I'm not overly sentimental about Swindon's Railway past - it's not quite the golden age put across - but the Railway Village and the Mechanics Institute stand out as something special. At the same time the Mechanics Institute also stands out as a political sore that we all need to do something about.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: mjad on June 11, 2006, 07:52:54 AM
at least with Rod Bluh leading the council we have someone who is interested in doing something positive about the area - let's hope we can get some movement soon
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Simon on June 11, 2006, 03:53:40 PM
Perhaps John Doyle would like to tell us why the labour group did not buy it for £1 when they were in control if he / they are so interested in saving it?

IMHO it would cost millions now (got a rough idea how much Singh brought it for & what the costs to date would have cost & how much work is urgently needed)

Can anyone explain why it was on sale for £1, what it would cost now to buy, and what investment Mr Singh has made in the site since purchasing it (besides clearing away the undergrowth which used to take up all the space between the building and the fence)? Any difference between the original £1 and any current asking price ought to be accounted for by work he's done on the building since then.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on September 20, 2010, 08:52:28 AM
I didn't think Mr Singhs Investment was in question? Mr Singh has wanted to develop the site and invest into it but he's been denied the right to by the council and another body......
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richas on September 20, 2010, 10:30:12 AM
The key to saving any historic building is finding a modern use for it.

I know many dislke Mr Singh's plan but for me the problem is not that a modern extension to the existing building is wrong, it can work very well to highlight the historic bulding and make it into a viable building with a modern use. The problem for his plan is the lack of parking to make a hotel viable.

If we can find the use, and "community" is not good enough then the building can be saved.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: komadori on September 20, 2010, 10:05:43 PM
With the National Trust having its headquarters just a short walk away, I've often thought it would be a perfect place for them to use, as an exhibition space, conference centre, etc.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on September 21, 2010, 06:24:39 AM
I think there was a very vague discussion about English Heritage and national Trust using the facility as a meeting venue/exhibition space. But, the issues were that 1, they didn't own it and 2, it would have been bloody expensive.


Bus routes around the Mechanics are currently a nightmare, btw.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 29, 2010, 12:01:16 AM
Anyone know the latest?

Come on Daniel keep up the PR please, you need to keep it going now you have started and here is the opportunity to keep the pot boiling!


and with 2106 viewings you have got our interest so please do not lose it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 29, 2010, 02:49:18 PM
Anyone know the latest?

Come on Daniel keep up the PR please, you need to keep it going now you have started and here is the opportunity to keep the pot boiling!


and with 2106 viewings you have got our interest so please do not lose it.

An update on the Trust's work as requested:
I don't have anything major to add in terms of the current work, its fairly obvious as the work continues on the roof but I will share my thoughts on the last few days from another angle.
I've been non stop contacting stakeholders to arrange one to one meetings or telephone conversations and all have been positive in terms of wanting dialogue with the Trust and keen to discuss further or offer constructive help or advice on moving things on. I have to admit however that my attempts at such dialogue with SBC is still rather hard to secure. Feeling rather despondent yesterday with this continuing lack of relationship and communication I wrote down all the other organisations who I'd received positive responses from and realised that it was in fact only SBC who were the odd ones out, further evidence of their continuing ways of working that is debated on this forum so much. The common sentence I heard from several organisations and stakeholders was to the effect of "until you get your local authority sorted out its hard for us to engage". This raises the question - what does a third sector organisation (such as the Trust) do if with all the will in the world your local council just won't 'get it' or engage with you whether they are doing it on purpose or not? Its an infuriating situation of chicken and egg which has held back the Mechanics', the Trust and countless other issues and organisations for years. I will continue to try to gain this relationship with SBC and offer the olive branch to get this important issue resolved but I'm increasingly running out of options with this strategy and to be honest patience with them.

Sorry for the slight rant but that's what was in my head at time - useful to get it out! 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 29, 2010, 03:29:29 PM
Right Daniel,

You need to ask the following questions:

1.  If Swindon Borough Council do not and or will not engage with you, The New Mechanics' Trust, do they have other plans?

and

2.  If so what are they?

I take it you have undertaken a dialogue with the owner?  Stupid not to, after all he is the owner of the freehold.

I regard it as extremely ominous that SBC do not want to engage with you.

What do they have to hide?

Questions to Full Council on October 7th will be a very interesting digression from CUTS!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 29, 2010, 03:34:53 PM
An interesting letter to the Swindon Advertiser from Mr Les White

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/yoursay/swindonletters/8420308.Letter_from_Les_White/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/yoursay/swindonletters/8420308.Letter_from_Les_White/)

I HAVE written many times on the matter of the Mechanics’ Institute. Is the council so taken aback by the state of the building when in fact most of the blame must go to them, English Heritage and the Mechanics’ Trust, who have themselves to blame as they have not, or will not, sit down around a table and thrash out what would be acceptable for the building, so Mr Singh and previous owners can move on.

Stop dithering and get some action done. You might not need to replace the roof if there was something which would be acceptable in the pipeline. Do you really expect him to pay for work he has not given his consent to?

Don’t forget the council was offered the building many years ago for peanuts, please do not blame each other as you are all responsible for not accepting it because it would have cost money to put right - so sort it out now.

LES WHITE Mulberry Grove Rodbourne Cheney Swindon



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 29, 2010, 03:52:20 PM
Right Daniel,

You need to ask the following questions:

1.  If Swindon Borough Council do not and or will not engage with you, The New Mechanics' Trust, do they have other plans?

and

2.  If so what are they?

I take it you have undertaken a dialogue with the owner?  Stupid not to, after all he is the owner of the freehold.

I regard it as extremely ominous that SBC do not want to engage with you.

What do they have to hide?

Questions to Full Council on October 7th will be a very interesting digression from CUTS!

1) They may have other plans which I fear will not be in the interests of the building or the community or make the most of the real opportunity the building could deliver for the town. I can't get a straight answer on this and the Trust is as much in the dark as anyone else.

2) We have not had dialogue with the owner for some time. It has never proved particularly useful and he hasn't wanted to engage constructively with us or as far as I can see anyone else in terms of stakeholders. He has had unrealistic expectations of what the building is worth and his actions are questionable to date.

3) I agree it is ominous that SBC aren't engaging and indeed what do they have to hide. Also why wouldn't you engage with the only Building Preservation Trust and Development Trust in the town and the only organisation to have Listed Building Consent for the whole building and a business plan, knowledge, history etc to bring to the table. As it states in Planning Policy Guidance and countless examples around the country the role of such local trusts is common in resolving such matters. I'm currently contacting other Building Preservation Trusts to gain their insight and potential to share their experience with Swindon as the worry is that things all too often become insular, inward looking and lacking in vision in Swindon's decision making.

Your point Richard is central to the whole Mechanics' issue now but also in the past. I would be intrigued to hear what others observations are on such matters. 

Full Council could indeed be an interesting addition.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 29, 2010, 05:38:50 PM
Daniel you last post worries me as it appears confused.

If you don't do something immediately you could be sidelined permanently and then we all lose.

You must come to Council and ask carefully prepared pithy and to the point questions or your opportunities to gain information will be lost

alternatively do a Freedom of Information Request and publish it.

As for Mr Singh, your very future relies on his input for better or for worse so please seek some form of dialogue with him and pooh pooing everything he suggests is at best unhelpful and maybe the very reason why nobody will engage with you.  You don't have to agree with him but please do not deride his perspective because at the end of the day he is still the owner.

How is your fundraising going with a view to achieving ownership or are you relying on the Council to hand it over to you in which case you might as well disband now?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 29, 2010, 10:34:34 PM
Daniel you last post worries me as it appears confused.

If you don't do something immediately you could be sidelined permanently and then we all lose.

You must come to Council and ask carefully prepared pithy and to the point questions or your opportunities to gain information will be lost

alternatively do a Freedom of Information Request and publish it.

As for Mr Singh, your very future relies on his input for better or for worse so please seek some form of dialogue with him and pooh pooing everything he suggests is at best unhelpful and maybe the very reason why nobody will engage with you.  You don't have to agree with him but please do not deride his perspective because at the end of the day he is still the owner.

How is your fundraising going with a view to achieving ownership or are you relying on the Council to hand it over to you in which case you might as well disband now?

Richard I'm not confused in the slightest. I believe the Trust is doing everything possible at this time to ensure we are not sidelined. Also as I said in a previous post it is just SBC who are not engaging with the Trust and while that is a problem it does not equal "nobody will engage with you" - just to be clear on that point.

The Trust has often over the years used Council, Cabinet and other committees to raise issues. Myself and the Board will make a decision on when and how we do this in the future including the next Full Council meeting. We have also used FOI a lot, albeit like getting blood out of a stone.

I point you back to a previous post I made recently regarding fundraising as well as my opinions on the options for ownership change. Briefly again though a "Back-to-Back" deal with SBC is a preferred option and one which the Trust has advocated for years as this is a common approach to such matters and is highlighted in Planning Policy Guidance whereby a Council CPO's a building and hands it directly over to a Building Preservation Trust. However this is not the only option for achieving ownership and the Board has regular discussions over the options available to pursue this objective.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 29, 2010, 11:15:20 PM
Daniel I am starting to feel you are a lost cause, but I will give this one last try to help.

Have you registered your FOI's through they work for you?  This registers them and chases them for you and notes if you do not get a reply.

Sadly by the way in which you have answered my postings it is clear that your thinking is muddled, confused and lacking any particular focus and it is all too easy to why the people who matter ignore you, ie the owner and SBC. 

They don't have to engage with you and so the onus of responsibility is with you to engage with them and persuade them to do so and show them you have the means to deliver on any negotiating position.  How can you possibly satisfy this basic business requirement?

Until you are in a position to purchase the building nothing will happen and if it does you will never be in a position to exercise any control over it until and unless you are in a position to put money on the table.  At the moment as I understand it you have no means of doing so or even showing the potential to do so.

Sorry to be blunt but that is the way I see it.

I am now going to keep any further thoughts to myself and watch this uadulterated tragedy reach its natural conclusion, but nevertheless from the bottom of my heart wish you well.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on September 30, 2010, 08:40:13 AM
Tuff luv Richard

Trust - the ball is in your court

SBC - seems you hold a big racquet

Mr Singh - I make an appeal to you as umpire - can you please find a way to return Mechanics' to Swindon residents' control ?

East Meets West

when east meets west
we are both blessed with insight
in spite of what the media portrays
he does this, she does that
when east meets west
we blow the media cover
and discover, one another


written by Tony Hillier in India

www.tonyhillier.co.uk (http://www.tonyhillier.co.uk)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 30, 2010, 10:50:15 AM
Daniel I am starting to feel you are a lost cause, but I will give this one last try to help.

Have you registered your FOI's through they work for you?  This registers them and chases them for you and notes if you do not get a reply.

Sadly by the way in which you have answered my postings it is clear that your thinking is muddled, confused and lacking any particular focus and it is all too easy to why the people who matter ignore you, ie the owner and SBC. 

They don't have to engage with you and so the onus of responsibility is with you to engage with them and persuade them to do so and show them you have the means to deliver on any negotiating position.  How can you possibly satisfy this basic business requirement?

Until you are in a position to purchase the building nothing will happen and if it does you will never be in a position to exercise any control over it until and unless you are in a position to put money on the table.  At the moment as I understand it you have no means of doing so or even showing the potential to do so.

Sorry to be blunt but that is the way I see it.

I am now going to keep any further thoughts to myself and watch this uadulterated tragedy reach its natural conclusion, but nevertheless from the bottom of my heart wish you well.

Your posts seem to underplay significantly the complex nature of the issue, the role of the Trust and simplify the various processes involved in planning matters and historic buildings. Linked to this is also the funding issue you raised which as I've explained in the past is not the first step in the process, what is required first is a clear roadmap owned by all stakeholders of the direction of travel. Ownership change and any required funding comes slightly further down the line (finance of course is significantly important but is not the starting point in this instance, first we must agree the basic objectives between stakeholders for the future of the building and its use).

Richard of course the Trust has and will continue to make it a priority to engage with SBC and all stakeholders in order for the us to take a positive lead role in solving this issue. This has been one of the main arguments I've been setting out on this forum and elsewhere.

My thinking is the opposite of "muddled, confused and lacking any particular focus". I know you want to see this issue solved and come to a positive conclusion as do I but please take my word for it that the Trust is clear in its direction and understanding of the complexity of the matter and the order and timing of the various objectives required to happen.

You clearly have a keen interest in this issue which should be applauded and if you wish to have a face to face conversation about it to further this interest or knowledge then my door is always open and you only have to contact me. 

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on September 30, 2010, 01:45:17 PM
Sorry Daniel Funding HAS to be the starting point. The situation is too urgent as far as the building itself is concerned, and now the Council have intervened, the situation will have to be resolved quickly. There is the issue of the cost of the urgent works - if the council wish to try to reclaim this then they are going to have to seriously consider the owners proposals for the building. The alternatibve will be a long and costly litigation.

Unless the trust can come up with the required funding fairly quickly and a workable business plan, then there is a very good chance that the owner will get planning permission.




Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on September 30, 2010, 02:00:12 PM
The owner won't get planning permission if what he proposes is against planning law.

There are LAWS on what you can and cannot do to listed buildings.

The Trust cannot raise funds for a building that they don't own, but they can get going very quickly once they have a legal 'hold' on it or are working in partnership with those that do.  The Trust are doing the right thing, getting everything ready and in place for the day when they can.
It IS do-able.

I'm sorry I can't understand why there is this continual digging at those who are doing their best.   I can confirm that their representatives are everywhere at meetings etc. and have been for all the time there has been a Trust.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 30, 2010, 02:06:32 PM
Things are urgent but there still has to be a clear process of well thought through actions or the risk is that in the haste poor decisions are made and we do not gain the full potential from the opportunity. Also the fact that SBC have taken a financial risk should bare no relation on how the owners future plans are dealt with - if he does indeed put forward any - in all cases treatment should be open, transparent and within Planning Policy, taking into account views of stakeholders.

You mention a business plan which definitely comes before funding otherwise you don't know what your funding, how much, in what way, over what timescales etc. The Trust has a business plan, costings and Listed Building Consent for the building already, although they are in need of updating to today's environment. Feasibility and viability studies are costly exercises and not something that can be done year on year. In order to undertake this work we are working with partners but we still require a partnership and outline agreement with SBC to enable full funds for this work to be released from relevant bodies such as the Architectural Heritage Fund who specifically fund Building Preservation Trusts business planning. They will not release funds until they see a clear direction of travel and partnership from the local authority - hence the importance I put on the relationship with SBC.

The above shouldn't be so hard to achieve and you would think was in the interests of SBC to help - the question to ask is "why wouldn't they?" What do people think?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on September 30, 2010, 02:33:49 PM
More Questions than answers

Who presently owns the building, are we sure about that one?

Who has been talking to the people believed to own the building and what are their intentions?

Ownership is everything and can prevent everything and we could still be looking at a stabilised ruin in fifty years time if the owners decide to sit on it and there is nothing any one of us can do about it.

and where are SBC in this equation and with their track record on 'deals' who is say this is not already a fait acompli for the simple reason it is Swindon's money that is being spent right now?

 and

one final question

Who controls planning in Swindon?

Sadly the Trust can be ignored and will continue to be ignored if it doesn't change its tactics and show it has the capacity to make some financial contribution.  Its a bit like the childrens fete you know we did not have the money and were completely reliant on outside funding to make it happen, and that was achieved as late as five weeks before we were holding the event.  Next year you may well not be so lucky!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 30, 2010, 02:49:34 PM
More Questions than answers

Who presently owns the building, are we sure about that one?

Who has been talking to the people believed to own the building and what are their intentions?

Ownership is everything and can prevent everything and we could still be looking at a stabilised ruin in fifty years time if the owners decide to sit on it and there is nothing any one of us can do about it.

and where are SBC in this equation and with their track record on 'deals' who is say this is not already a fait acompli for the simple reason it is Swindon's money that is being spent right now?

 and

one final question

Who controls planning in Swindon?

Sadly the Trust can be ignored and will continue to be ignored if it doesn't change its tactics and show it has the capacity to make some financial contribution.  Its a bit like the childrens fete you know we did not have the money and were completely reliant on outside funding to make it happen, and that was achieved as late as five weeks before we were holding the event.  Next year you may well not be so lucky!

It is totally inaccurate to say that there is nothing that can be done to stop the owner sitting on the building - local authorities have the legal powers to resolve such situations and the Trust has argued for such intervention consistently - the current urgent works is an example of the legal powers councils have, albeit shamefully later than it should of been.

Richard I can only point you back to previous posts to understand the funding issues and the overall processes involved in these matters.

As for the Children's Fete - as I said last week I do not think funding such community initiatives from grants is a problem - that is the role of having grant programmes and funding pots for organisations and groups to apply to. Also we have run the Fete many times now and each has been funded and a successful popular event whether funded directly by the Trust or via grant funding. I would also point out that the Trust has operated for 15 years with next to no outside funding whatsoever - the majority has been earned income and donations.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on September 30, 2010, 02:54:00 PM
There are clear guidelines Muggins - what is being proposed would not be against the law if the owner could show that there were no viable alternatives.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on September 30, 2010, 03:09:47 PM
There are clear guidelines Muggins - what is being proposed would not be against the law if the owner could show that there were no viable alternatives.

Just wanted to explore this a bit further with you if I can:
1)What is the owner proposing? As far as I'm aware he does not have any new plans on the table.
2) The test of proving there are no other viable alternatives is not the whole point - even if this was the case and he proved there were no other alternatives this doesn't equal a blank canvas for the owner to justify anything. Any proposal would still need to satisfy other heritage and planning constraints and views from statutory bodies.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: PAV on September 30, 2010, 03:21:19 PM
At least they've re-opened the road.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on September 30, 2010, 04:32:55 PM
The council would have accepted his last plans.

As I understand it he paid £500K for the building - he's surely not going to walk away from that.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on September 30, 2010, 06:06:59 PM
Quote
I'm sorry I can't understand why there is this continual digging at those who are doing their best. 

Sorry Muggins - this is one of the rare occasions I disagree with you. It should be easy to understand (even if you don't agree). The Trust are one of the three groups who are responsible for the rotting pile which used to be The Mechanics. The others are SBC and the current owner (with bit-part players being the likes of English Heritage, architects etc.). 15 years have passed in which the faces of these three groups have changed BUT NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Two of the three 'claim' to be acting in the best interests of Swindon and its people - yet ALL THREE have failed to either compromise OR RAISE THE FUNDS WHICH THEIR PLANS WOULD REQUIRE TO BECOME MORE THAN FANTASY. 15 years is a long long time.

Quote
The Trust cannot raise funds for a building that they don't own,

Why on Earth not? If they'd raised funds, they could BUY the building - then we'd see quite how realistic it will be to put their idealised plans into action.

Quote
but they can get going very quickly once they have a legal 'hold' on it or are working in partnership with those that do.

Who? Who holds this magical fund of imaginary money? Wouldn't the ultimate legal 'hold' be actual ownership?

Quote
The Trust are doing the right thing, getting everything ready and in place for the day when they can.

... Like they have for the last 15 years? Sorry, I've seen regular headline announcing the latest crisis for The Mechanics year after year after year. All I've seen from the Trust is action which has prevented owners from doing anything with the building.

The net result of their actions may mean we'll ALL lose when the place is eventually (and now nigh on inevitably) condemned and pulled down.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on September 30, 2010, 06:11:42 PM
At least they've re-opened the road.

At bloody last. My journey home has taken up to an hour longer this last week!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 02, 2010, 10:58:01 PM
The council would have accepted his last plans.

As I understand it he paid £500K for the building - he's surely not going to walk away from that.

with the addition (if im correct) of the executive flat, that would un-doubtedly push the value upwards?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 11, 2010, 12:18:57 PM
Last post October 2nd., 9 days ago!!

What is going on here?

Does the New Mechanics' Institute have nothing to say?

I suggest that we are starting to forget about this now - out of sight and out of mind.

The whole point about publicity is to keep it in the news - good or bad.

something like - went around there today and there were twenty SBC workmen on site clearing up - doesn't mean much but at least it is being talked about. 

We do care and we are interested, but we are not involved.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 12, 2010, 01:59:41 PM
Hi,

I've been tweeting about my various meetings and day to day business which includes the Mechanics' when I can at: twitter.com/leinadesor if you are interested.

Over the last week I've been doing the following:
1) Agreed objectives for the new Trust website with the designers. Hopefully this should be ready to launch soon. Will let you all know when.
2) Had a very good meeting with Robert Buckland MP. Discussed the immediate issues and how he could help establish a relations with SBC and other stakeholders with the Trust. Overall supportive and understanding of the Trust's position - so far can't fault his work as MP with us at all.
3) Met up with Government Office South West to discuss how SBC could improve relations with the voluntary and community sector. Lots of Big Society talk which will frame the report being prepared for SBC. Look forward to seeing the completed document.
4) Forward Swindon to discuss the Mechanics' and how the Trust's plans could form part of the wider regeneration. Also discussed how the wider Conservation Area must be considered and shared ideas on this.
5) Meeting organised by Robert Buckland with SBC. A good start in terms of building relations, hopefully more to follow.
6) Visit from the Theatres Trust - the statutory body on theatres. Very supportive of the Trust and incredibly helpful, always a pleasure to meet with them. They also undertook a site visit to the Mechanics' to see the work happening and give any advice/ views. Keen to stay involved.
7) Had a site visit myself the other day. Had a good update on progress and timescales from the Architect and project manager. All seems to be going to plan so far and the temporary roof structure should be complete in the next 2 weeks. Discussed conservation aspects and wider structure.
8) Had a quarterly Trust Board meeting.
9) Various other bits of work going on, phone calls, emails etc and lots of routine boring things! Also some work on funding for short/medium term projects.

Think that's the key bits.

Got some important meetings coming up in the next 2 weeks too. Hopefully will be able to report good news.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on October 12, 2010, 04:42:36 PM
Well, I don't agree with your approach Daniel - but I respect you and your colleagues dedication and wish you the best of luck.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 13, 2010, 07:48:52 AM
Daniel, firstly well done for this post, it is such a shame that you had not improved your publicity machine earlier and I urge you to share both on your website and on here as soon as there ANY developments.

I hope your approach is not been seen by the main players as being via the back door as in particular you make no mention of the owner, someone with whom you must engage.

Just make sure your past record does not sideline you and that you bring a positive and flexible contribution to the table.

Anyway good luck and I look forward to further developments and I do fully appreciate you are a very busy man.

PS Tobes couldn't you sleep following last night's planning debacle?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: chrisp on October 13, 2010, 11:00:18 PM
bulldo\e the place and who is this daniel guy. never heard of him before. probably some speckled geek
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 14, 2010, 12:47:48 AM
Baiting......plus it wasn't very nice haha
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on October 14, 2010, 09:37:59 AM
chrisp:

There will always be people who suddenly get switched on and have to catch up.......and TS is the place to do that.

Just because you haven't heard of people doesn't mean they are not well known.

Actually Daniel is a very nice looking young man with more 'go' in him that most. It's a refreshing change to meet one that doesn't have his head in the gutter, not scared to come and sit in the necessary meetings with us old fogies.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on October 14, 2010, 09:44:05 AM
chrisp:

There will always be people who suddenly get switched on and have to catch up.......and TS is the place to do that.

Just because you haven't heard of people doesn't mean they are not well known.

Actually Daniel is a very nice looking young man with more 'go' in him that most. It's a refreshing change to meet one that doesn't have his head in the gutter, not scared to come and sit in the necessary meetings with us old fogies.

echo Muggins

he (and the Trust) need all the support Swindon society (and we chattering classes) can muster
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 14, 2010, 10:16:24 AM
Hi guys,

Wanted to draw your attention to this released yesterday. "Heritage Counts", the annual report into the state of the historic environment, has got some really interesting trends and findings this year. This needs to be highlighted at every opportunity to those who have some power and influence over Swindon's heritage. I will certainly be using this to add further weight to the benefits of investing in the historic environment.

Key findings:

£1 of investment in the historic environment generates £1.6 of additional economic activity over a ten year period.

Investment in the historic environment attracts businesses, one in four businesses’ agree that the historic environment is an important factor in deciding where to locate, the same as for road access.

Investing in the historic environment brings more visitors to local areas and encourages them to spend more, approximately one in five visitors to areas which have had historic environment investment spend more in the local area than before and one in four businesses has seen the number of customers increase.

Heritage Tourism

    * Heritage tourism is a vital economic sector, directly generating £7.4 billion of GDP annually and supporting 195,000 jobs.
    * Heritage attracts inbound visitors. A third of all international tourists cite heritage as the main reason why they come to the UK.
    * Historic environment attractions generates local wealth. Half of all jobs created by historic environment attractions are in local businesses.

Full report at: http://hc.english-heritage.org.uk/ (http://hc.english-heritage.org.uk/)


   
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 25, 2010, 04:29:24 PM
Quick update from the Trust for any interested parties. Please feel free to ask any questions etc.

Was invited to attend Tetbury Rail Lands Regeneration Trust last weekend. They have been trying to restore the former GWR goods shed (Tetbury's last remaining example of railway heritage) and turn it into community use. More detail is available at: http://www.new-mechanics.com/events/tetbury-goods-shed/ (http://www.new-mechanics.com/events/tetbury-goods-shed/)

Several meetings regarding the wider conservation area and how to pull together an overall strategy for such a heritage rich part of town - the Railway Village and GWR Works site. Several key players involved in this: local cllr's, Forward Swindon etc. The Trust has a key role to play in regenerating and better celebrating this area and will use previous and new work to inform these discussions and push good community involvement in any ideas. I'm currently working on a presentation outlining the economic and social benefits of investing in Swindon's historic environment to help focus interested stakeholders.

Had general overview of the latest situation on-site at the Mechanics'. All seems to be progressing well and the scaffolding structure is underway. Pleased to hear that my questions over the state of the Fly Tower are fairly positive, apparently it is structurally sound and not a cause of concern and in very good shape - built of strong stuff clearly! The temporary roof should be going on soon which will make the theatre weather tight and secure. Although a lot of the historic elements in the theatre have been lost I'm assured as much as possible has been recorded and recovered and passed to English Heritage. Once the roof is done the rest of Urgent Works schedule will need to be actioned, I need to get a clear timeline on this process.

Today gave a lunchtime talk to Swindon based National Trust and English Heritage staff about the Mechanics', the Trust's plans and opportunities for the future. Really well attended and supportive audience. Lots of follow up required to take up offers of help. Really worthwhile.

Meeting with regional director and other English Heritage staff this week to discuss the latest situation and develop a relationship/understanding for the coming months.

Been developing some work for the Heritage Lottery Fund regarding conservation and public engagement project in the Railway Village.

Organising mailing to Trust membership this week.

Signed off new design for the Trust website and now going into the technical build phase. Further promotional materials are in the pipeline to help with public engagement and awareness.

Think that's the key bits from the last 2 weeks.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on October 25, 2010, 06:09:23 PM
Thanks Daniel - how is the relationship with English Heritage developing? To my mind, it could be key. They and HLF have supported a few huge projects, even in recent years.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 25, 2010, 06:45:12 PM
Thanks Daniel - how is the relationship with English Heritage developing? To my mind, it could be key. They and HLF have supported a few huge projects, even in recent years.

As soon as the theatre roof issues kicked off in September I contacted EH and used this news as a bit of a catalyst to re-start discussions which hadn't been particularly close for a while. The initial telephone conversation was very positive, friendly and they seemed very interested to hear the Trust's latest thinking. A meeting was proposed and this is happening this week between myself and 3 key EH staff linked with the Mechanics' as an issue.

Also following today's lunchtime talk, EH staff on the ground were supportive and several came up afterwards offering to help and find out more, nothing like some grassroots pressure in an organisation!

So I'm hoping it will develop well and I agree this relationship will be key. Will keep you posted.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 25, 2010, 07:41:14 PM
Mr Rose have you spoken to Mr Singh regarding this work? After all he does own it O0
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 25, 2010, 08:20:40 PM
Mr Rose have you spoken to Mr Singh regarding this work? After all he does own it O0

Hi,

I haven't spoken to the owner for a long time and he's never been interested in engaging with the Trust or any stakeholders constructively as far as I can see. My opinion is that the owner has dug himself an enormous hole by consistently misunderstanding and underestimating the responsibility of owning a grade 2* listed building. Following his inability to ensure the building is safe, managed appropriately and kept in an acceptable condition the legal framework takes over which includes the Urgent Works Notice that was served and then ignored by the owner, this has led to the Council having to step in now to undertake these works and then pursue the owner for the funds. It is a shame it has taken this long but at least the council are now following the legal framework set out in national planning guidance to resolve this situation, I hope to letter.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 26, 2010, 07:38:40 AM
Ok thanks for your reply I do have a couple of questions I hope you could answer for me Mr Rose?

1: When was the Mechanics Institute purchased by Forefront estates?

2: Before the time of purchase was the Mechanics Institute a class 2 listed building or was its status as 'listed' implemented during or after purchase?

3: Has not Forefront Estates or Mr Singh applied for development rights?
Secondary: If Mr Singh or Forefront Estates have been refused the 'green light', why?

Many thanks in advance

Ben
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 26, 2010, 09:52:40 AM
Daniel, I feel your attitude towards Mr Singh and his company Forefront Estates is unfortunate, but you do realise that it limits you and the potential for your project.

Provided legal requirements are met there is absolutely no reason why the owner should ever bother with you.

You have to engage with him or suffer the consequences of losing control, but in your heart you already know that!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 26, 2010, 10:50:26 AM
Ok thanks for your reply I do have a couple of questions I hope you could answer for me Mr Rose?

1: When was the Mechanics Institute purchased by Forefront estates?

2: Before the time of purchase was the Mechanics Institute a class 2 listed building or was its status as 'listed' implemented during or after purchase?

3: Has not Forefront Estates or Mr Singh applied for development rights?
Secondary: If Mr Singh or Forefront Estates have been refused the 'green light', why?

Many thanks in advance

Ben

1) Forefront Estates purchased the building in 2003. In 2002 English Heritage and Swindon Borough Council appointed architects Fielden Clegg Bradley to produce an Urgent Works report which would highlight what measures and repairs were needed in order to slow the process of decay to the building. This report was planned to be issued as part of a Urgent Works Notice due to be served on the then owner. During this period the owner announced that he had a buyer for the building (Forefront Estates). The Trust urged the Council to issue the notice regardless of the ownership situation however in they chose not to and put faith in the new owner Forefront Estates who claimed that they would carry out the urgent works themselves and therefore a legal notice was not needed. Forefront Estates paid £500,000 for the building.

During 2003 the new owner did carry out some works on the building largely concentrated on the southern end however these were incomplete and the removal of the roof coverings on the north end have had dire consequences. The Trust continually pressed the Council to assess to what extent the owner had carried out the works detailed in the original notice and to serve an Urgent Works Notice on the unfinished work. The Council refused to do this.

2) The building was upgraded to grade 2* in 1999, long before Forefront Estates purchased the building.

3) Permitted Development Rights are more restricted in Conservation Areas and with listed buildings. The owners original hotel application was withdrawn following the proposal being "called in" by central government and it never went to public inquiry. The later scheme put forward also for a hotel and associated uses, included the demolition of the north end and fly tower was refused. Some permission for south end of the building was granted (regrettably in the Trust's opinion) for residential apartments and conferencing. With the change in policy that SBC now need to adhere following the Central Area Action Plan hearing it is clear that this permission would not be possible to grant today just as it shouldn't then as it was not in line with Planning Policy Guidance relating to the historic environment as set out in government planning policy. This permission has been started by the owner but the work is incomplete and came to a halt earlier this year. Reportedly the work undertaken is of very low quality and in places not in line with the permission and was subject to the H&S notices last year. 

Think that answers your questions, let me know if not.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 26, 2010, 01:38:40 PM
Again thank you for answering my questions, (and again) I have a couple more questions.

1: In respective view of the historical implications regarding planning and development, would the trust and/or yourself not agree that the building would be in a better condition if planning were to be given the early on in the purchase by Forefront Estates?
As a follow up question :
What is the mechanics trust goal in regards to development/restoration or even partial development/restoration?

2: what legal obligation does the trust hold in relation to restoration?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 10:21:23 AM
Again thank you for answering my questions, (and again) I have a couple more questions.

1: In respective view of the historical implications regarding planning and development, would the trust and/or yourself not agree that the building would be in a better condition if planning were to be given the early on in the purchase by Forefront Estates?
As a follow up question :
What is the mechanics trust goal in regards to development/restoration or even partial development/restoration?

2: what legal obligation does the trust hold in relation to restoration?


1) The plans put forward by the owner were totally inappropriate for a grade 2* listed building in a conservation area of world heritage status potential. Also the plans put forward would of had a detrimental impact of the railway village community. Moreover the plans put forward were of poor quality in terms of design, planning considerations and contained little or no detail or justification for the proposals put forward. I would of expected any serious, professional and knowledgeable developer to put forward much stronger and well thought through plans but at the end of the day it is not the role of SBC or English Heritage to create decent planning applications and schemes. I must also make it clear that while the Trust has objected to the plans we have done so based on the backbone of national Planning Policy, which in each case we feel has not been met. The Trust has the right just as any relevant organisation or resident to submit views on planning matters but the final decision sits with the Planning Authority taking into account of the views of statutory agencies such as English Heritage. I do not accept that the building would be better off being "something" rather than its current state if the "something" is so inappropriate and leaves a lasting legacy of poor development on the conservation area. The Mechanics' always has and still does represent a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to the regeneration of Swindon and the wider conservation area as well as serve the people of the town in a manner reflecting its past social innovation. 

2) The goal of the Trust's proposals and restoration are to become central to the regeneration of Swindon both physically and socially, creating a sense of place that would increase and celebrate local pride and culture, which has been squashed for so long. A restoration which would ensure that Swindon's Railway Village and Works have its place as core to any World Heritage Status between Temple Meads and Paddington. The uses for the building which have gained Listed Building Consent are available on the Trust website: www.new-mechanics.com  (http://www.new-mechanics.com)

3) I'm not sure I fully understand your last question so please feel free to come back to me. The Trust is legally a Building Preservation Trust of which there are over 300 in the country who often take on historic buildings where all private commercial schemes have failed, this often comes about following a local council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order and then initiating what is known as a "back to back" agreement with a Trust.
We are also a Development Trust which means we have objectives to provide facilities and activities involving community development, regeneration and neighbourhood renewal acting as a social enterprise.
We are a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, without
In essence the Trust holds all the relevant charitable powers and objectives to take on historic buildings, restore and operate them for the benefit of the public.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 27, 2010, 10:48:40 AM
Daniel, I hope you are not suggesting that in these financially challenging times where adult services etc are losing millions off their budgets that SBC find money to purchase The Mechanics'?  I think there would be uproar if money were allocated in this way at this time.

What arrangements do you have in hand to raise the money yourselves to purchase or is your campaign a 'one shot pony' relying on SBC?  If it is you put yourselves at their mercy and have to rely on their agreement to your proposals.  They could, of course, completely ignore you as they have done thus far.

I do so hope you have a plan B which involves engagement with the owner?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 27, 2010, 11:43:49 AM
Quote
1) The plans put forward by the owner were totally inappropriate for a grade 2* listed building in a conservation area of world heritage status potential. Also the plans put forward would of had a detrimental impact of the railway village community. Moreover the plans put forward were of poor quality in terms of design, planning considerations and contained little or no detail or justification for the proposals put forward. I would of expected any serious, professional and knowledgeable developer to put forward much stronger and well thought through plans but at the end of the day it is not the role of SBC or English Heritage to create decent planning applications and schemes. I must also make it clear that while the Trust has objected to the plans we have done so based on the backbone of national Planning Policy, which in each case we feel has not been met. The Trust has the right just as any relevant organisation or resident to submit views on planning matters but the final decision sits with the Planning Authority taking into account of the views of statutory agencies such as English Heritage. I do not accept that the building would be better off being "something" rather than its current state if the "something" is so inappropriate and leaves a lasting legacy of poor development on the conservation area. The Mechanics' always has and still does represent a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to the regeneration of Swindon and the wider conservation area as well as serve the people of the town in a manner reflecting its past social innovation. 

so in short, you would rather see it decay then restored with a different purpose?

Quote
The Mechanics' always has and still does represent a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to the regeneration of Swindon and the wider conservation area as well as serve the people of the town in a manner reflecting its past social innovation.

im slightly confused by this, you want it restored but not by Mr Singh?
contradictory to what you just said yourself, so what does the trust want in regards to restoration?

Quote
2) The goal of the Trust's proposals and restoration are to become central to the regeneration of Swindon both physically and socially, creating a sense of place that would increase and celebrate local pride and culture, which has been squashed for so long. A restoration which would ensure that Swindon's Railway Village and Works have its place as core to any World Heritage Status between Temple Meads and Paddington. The uses for the building which have gained Listed Building Consent are available on the Trust website: www.new-mechanics.com

erm regarding the uses of class 2 listed buildings on your site, where?? the only thing on there is the trusts rather weak proposal.

Quote
The goal of the Trust's proposals and restoration are to become central to the regeneration of Swindon both physically and socially, creating a sense of place that would increase and celebrate local pride and culture, which has been squashed for so long

regarding your first statement, everything revolves around the mechanics building?
as with time everything changes, including pride and culture.

Quote
3) I'm not sure I fully understand your last question so please feel free to come back to me. The Trust is legally a Building Preservation Trust of which there are over 300 in the country who often take on historic buildings where all private commercial schemes have failed, this often comes about following a local council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order and then initiating what is known as a "back to back" agreement with a Trust.
We are also a Development Trust which means we have objectives to provide facilities and activities involving community development, regeneration and neighbourhood renewal acting as a social enterprise.
We are a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, without
In essence the Trust holds all the relevant charitable powers and objectives to take on historic buildings, restore and operate them for the benefit of the public.

ok ill re-phrase my question

What legal ties does the trust have with the mechanics institute?

and again a couple more questions:

1: can you give me an example of a restored building that has left a lasting legacy of poor development?
as a subsidiary, if there are not clear examples isnt that just a prejudiced view against re-development?

2: can you give me an example of where commercial schemes have failed?
as another subsidiary, if there are no clear examples, how are you sure that a commercial route will fail?

3:
Quote
We are also a Development Trust which means we have objectives to provide facilities and activities involving community development, regeneration and neighbourhood renewal acting as a social enterprise.
did they not already do this with the platform?

4: Earlier in the post, on behalf of the trust you said you had put views forward to the planning committee and you do not agree that the building would have been in better condition had it been developed,  do you or the trust feel partially responsible for the rotten decaying state it is in now?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 12:32:52 PM
Daniel, I hope you are not suggesting that in these financially challenging times where adult services etc are losing millions off their budgets that SBC find money to purchase The Mechanics'?  I think there would be uproar if money were allocated in this way at this time.

What arrangements do you have in hand to raise the money yourselves to purchase or is your campaign a 'one shot pony' relying on SBC?  If it is you put yourselves at their mercy and have to rely on their agreement to your proposals.  They could, of course, completely ignore you as they have done thus far.

I do so hope you have a plan B which involves engagement with the owner?

As I have said all along the Trust does not have the policy that SBC should pay for the purchase or restoration of the Mechanics', I must also remind you that the Mechanics' has little or no market value. SBC should however as the local planning authority work within Planning Policy Guidance and other best practice to ensure that the Mechanics' is safe, secure and that urgent works are undertaken and to consider its future use and feasibility within the policy set out following the Central Area Action Plan hearing.

Firstly I'm not aware the building is currently being marketed for sale but in any case the owner has demonstrated that he has unrealistic expectations of what the building is worth. He may well of lost money on the project but that is down to his own business judgment and it is not for the Trust or anyone else to bail him out.  I do however accept that a direct transfer of ownership from the owner to the Trust is a possibility, however the most effective and preferred option would be to work within the framework of Planning Policy Guidance which is already in hand due to the urgent works and judge the situation once we know how the owner will react to the urgent work invoice he will receive from SBC. Evidence from elsewhere would say that several things are likely to happen: 1) the owner try's to sell the building (however there will be a charge on the land) 2) The owner hands over the building having considered his options. 3) The owner refuses to pay and CPO and/or other legal proceedings are launched. 4) The owner pays SBC for the work and we are back to square one.

As I've said before the Trust regularly assesses the best options to achieving our ultimate goal of owning the building which includes looking at the various plan B's as you put it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 27, 2010, 12:46:16 PM
Prevention through jealousy......wait for planning applications , object every single one, denied just to get someone else to pay for it then hand it over.

Well well well, I'm not going to say much more on that, point proven
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: moley on October 27, 2010, 12:51:01 PM
One Grade II building which I think has been done up very successfully as a commercial venue is the Brewery in London (the former Whitbread's brewery which is now a conference centre):

http://www.thebrewery.co.uk/about/

You can still see a lot of the history of the building, but it appears to be successfully making money (which to me suggests that heritage and commercialism are not incompatible).

Moley
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 01:02:13 PM
It is not as simple as to say "you would rather see it decay then restored with a different purpose". The fact is that the building is listed and in a conservation area and is of national significance. Due to this (which should be seen as a huge positive) there are quite rightly planning restrictions in place - this is the law and it is the job of local authorities and English Heritage to ensure that these laws are followed.

The Trust wants exactly what I said we want to achieve. The proposals put forward by the owner do not represent those in the slightest.

Not everything revolves around the Mechanics' but the building and the surrounding conservation area should be the heart of any regeneration of Swindon. The value that sensitive and planned heritage restoration can bring to wider regeneration schemes is well documented for both social and economic development.

The Trust does not have a "legal tie" with the building. Those with legal ties in the broadest sense are the owner and SBC (as they are having to undertake the urgent works). The Trust has a legitimate "interest" as the only building preservation and development trust in the town.

I'm not prejudiced against re-development so long as the development is of good quality, benefits local people and is the optimum use for that listed building. If you want to find examples of the campaigns up and down the country where local people fight for their heritage and sense of place then take a look through the following organisations members: www.civicvoice.org.uk (http://www.civicvoice.org.uk) and www.ukapt.org.uk (http://www.ukapt.org.uk) and you can make your own judgment. Why should we continue to allow poor quality developments in Swindon when other towns and cities wouldn't think twice about allowing them.

I believe that a commercial development of the Mechanics' is unlikely due to the amount of investment needed in its restoration vs the lack of planning permission to create a scheme that would realise a private commercial return. The only things that would be likely to achieve this commercially would be a hotel of significant scale (which we have seen not be granted) and residential both of which would require significant demolition (which again has not been granted). Also it has not been proven yet that SBC have investigated the alternative feasible uses as set out in the Central Area Action Plan (see previous posts for details).
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 01:04:08 PM
One Grade II building which I think has been done up very successfully as a commercial venue is the Brewery in London (the former Whitbread's brewery which is now a conference centre):

[url]http://www.thebrewery.co.uk/about/[/url]

You can still see a lot of the history of the building, but it appears to be successfully making money (which to me suggests that heritage and commercialism are not incompatible).

Moley


I agree heritage and commercial scheme can work very well. But sometime they don't and that is when alternative ownership and building preservation trusts, development trusts and national organisations such as the National Trust step in to save them and put them to use.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 27, 2010, 01:28:51 PM
Thank you for your reply,

In retrospect of what you have just said, it still seems that because the trust does not own the building the trust will deny any chance other than its own perception of what it deems as correct with the addition of the trust holding no legal obligation to the building itself, in my view the trust may very well have good intent for the Mechanics Institute but the way it has conducted itself is wrong, arrogant and childish.

Also Mr Rose have you any examples of listed buildings failing as a commercial enterprise?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 27, 2010, 01:30:24 PM
Daniel

The chances of the National Trust getting involved are NIL.

Unfortunately it looks as though Mr Singh will one way or another lose out - Forefront estates accounts show bank loans of £800K + at Jan 2009, with the mechanics being mortgaged to HSBC.

Not even Rob Bluh is mad enough for Swindon Council to get involved.

Your problem is that without SBC effectively underwriting your plans, you are unlikely to be able to raise the necessary grants to redevelop the building.

Please explain how you will do this without SBC.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 03:57:33 PM
I was giving an example of how heritage buildings in general can be taken on by bodies like the National Trust, not saying the the NT would be doing so Swindon.

I do not believe SBC need to underwrite the Trust's plans. The restoration phase would come from Heritage Lottery and other funds and would have to include an element of public/charitable trusts fundraising as with most heritage restoration projects. I believe that the Mechanics' would be a highly popular heritage project to fund due to the national importance and its place at the top of the "At Risk" register and the fact that the uses put forward by the Trust are beneficial to the community and deliver high social value.

The on-going costs would be covered from the social enterprise model whereby any commercial funds created from the conference and retail space for example would essentially subsidize the community functions which would not generate profit.

The Trust needs SBC to help enable the Trust's ownership as they have the legal powers of Compulsory Purchase for example. This is a common approach where Building Preservation Trusts and local authorities work in partnership and arrange a "back to back" deal of a heritage asset.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 04:02:41 PM
Thank you for your reply,

In retrospect of what you have just said, it still seems that because the trust does not own the building the trust will deny any chance other than its own perception of what it deems as correct with the addition of the trust holding no legal obligation to the building itself, in my view the trust may very well have good intent for the Mechanics Institute but the way it has conducted itself is wrong, arrogant and childish.

Also Mr Rose have you any examples of listed buildings failing as a commercial enterprise?

A number of listed building are very successful as commercial enterprises however some face challenges along the way or from the outset certain heritage buildings are just not suitable for such development. Like with anything you can find examples for positives and negatives so while I will try and find some examples for you I think the better option is to assess rationally the issues and prospects for the Mechanics, taking into account the wider conservation area and Swindon as a whole otherwise this issue isn't in context.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 27, 2010, 04:58:22 PM
I must also remind you that the Mechanics' has little or no market value.

Are you on something or what Daniel, of course the Mechanics' has a value in excess of what Forefront Estates paid for it.  You are deluded if you think otherwise.
 
Daniel, the chances of the National Trust getting involved are NIL.

If they were going to do so they would have done so by now.  English Heritage already enjoy a lamentable track record in Swindon and I cite the Great Western Railway Turntable that is rusting away outside the Italian Restaurant previously the Pattern Store.  EH just blocked its relocation for further use to Minehead on the West Somerset Railway and caused it to remain out of sight out of mind and completely forgotten making it  irrelevent in the context of history of the Railway Works.

Unfortunately it looks as though Mr Singh will one way or another lose out - Forefront estates accounts show bank loans of £800K + at Jan 2009, with the mechanics being mortgaged to HSBC.
 

Do you actually understand basic business Daniel?  Ownership is everything and Forefront Estates own the Mechanics'.  Should Forefront Estates default on their loan it will become owned by the bank and they will want to realise any monies owed to the highest bidder.  Sentiment will not enter the equation.  That said I believe the owner, Forefront Estates, to be a very astute business which is keeping their powder dry and money in their pocket.

Forefront just have to fulfil legal requirements and nothing more and we could still be talking about this subject in fifty years time. 

If you do not have ownership you are powerless to do anything but comment from the outside.  I earnestly hope you will reveal your fundraising plans to to enable you to secure ownership of this precious building.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 27, 2010, 05:09:44 PM
Once again thank you for your reply Mr Rose,

And thank you for looking for case studies of listed buildings failing commercially, now at this point I would just like to say that in previous posts Mr Rose had stated that listed buildings generally fail as a commercial enterprise, it seems Mr Rose doesn't currently have any evidence to hand. I am not going to call Mr Rose a liar, I would just like to say that due to this small admission some of Mr Roses points in counter arguments are temporarily redundant until such time Mr Rose has enough evidence to support his argument.

On a further note Mr Rose described the mechanics being used for shops and services, a self sustaining endorsement. Would Mr Rose agree with me that this is similar to commercial endeavour?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: moley on October 27, 2010, 05:12:42 PM
Are you on something or what Daniel, of course the Mechanics' has a value in excess of what Forefront Estates paid for it.  You are deluded if you think otherwise.

Richard

Just one observation... the market value of properties (commercial and otherwise) can rise and fall just like any other artifact or commodity.... if your statement were necessarily true, nobody would have negative equity...

It's only worth more than Forefront paid if they can find a buyer prepared to take it off their hands for more than they paid for it.

Now in a world where there were no listed buildings, no planning permission and the owner could to whatever they wanted I'm sure it would be worth way more than they paid: but given the amount of hassle whoever buys it will get, I certainly wouldn't queue up to buy it..

Moley
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on October 27, 2010, 05:27:09 PM
National trust are unlikely to get involved unless the Mechanics was given to them with large sums of money.

However, within the last 2 months the Heritage Lottery Fund has invested £2 million in Cromford Mills 'oop North, so have form at funding industrial heritage.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 27, 2010, 06:02:32 PM

However, within the last 2 months the Heritage Lottery Fund has invested £2 million in Cromford Mills 'oop North, so have form at funding industrial heritage.

That is good news Drone but I think two mill will be required to secure the Mechanics' and will cost at least another £12m to restore.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 06:42:17 PM
Once again thank you for your reply Mr Rose,

And thank you for looking for case studies of listed buildings failing commercially, now at this point I would just like to say that in previous posts Mr Rose had stated that listed buildings generally fail as a commercial enterprise, it seems Mr Rose doesn't currently have any evidence to hand. I am not going to call Mr Rose a liar, I would just like to say that due to this small admission some of Mr Roses points in counter arguments are temporarily redundant until such time Mr Rose has enough evidence to support his argument.

On a further note Mr Rose described the mechanics being used for shops and services, a self sustaining endorsement. Would Mr Rose agree with me that this is similar to commercial endeavour?

I didn't say that commercial enterprises and listed buildings generally fail but I do believe that the Mechanics' has little or no prospect of private commercial viability and I think you would find that most stakeholders and heritage experts would agree. They would also agree that the current owner in particular has not put forward realistic, well thought through and viable proposals with a high degree of confidence in the owners ability to implement them.

The key difference between the Trust's plans for some elements of commercial use is that they would 100% operate with the objective of supporting the charity and community uses. This is what is known as a social enterprise. This approach also ensures that the operation does not rely on yearly subsidy or grants and makes sure that its self-supporting and has a more balanced business plan. Whereas a private commercial scheme would have to 1) repay the significant lending required for restoration and 2) pass any profits to the private owner/shareholders. This is a simple distinction between private enterprises and social enterprises.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 27, 2010, 08:07:13 PM
And I quote " The Trust is legally a Building Preservation Trust of which there are over 300 in the country who often take on historic buildings where all private commercial schemes have failed,"
Have you found any evidence yet Mr Rose?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 27, 2010, 08:43:30 PM
Exactly. Building Preservation Trusts tend to take on buildings which do not have a high commercial viability. I'm not saying that all historic buildings commercially fail obviously. I was simply stating that 1) I believe the Mechanics' has little or no private commercial viability and 2) That Building Preservation Trusts tend to step in in these instances, its even written in Planning Policy Guidance as advice to local councils.

As I said earlier you can view yourself a range of such trusts at the Association of Preservation Trusts website: http://www.ukapt.org.uk/ (http://www.ukapt.org.uk/)

As an example Ipswich Preservation Trust make this point clearly on their website:
The primary object of the Trust is to preserve buildings in the Borough of Ipswich of historical, architectural or constructional interest which may be at risk, either because of dilapidation or threatened demolition for redevelopment.
 
Projects undertaken by the Trust are not intended to compete with what private individuals or commercial undertakings might be able to achieve. Rather, the intention is to carry out restorations which are not commercially attractive thus saving buildings which otherwise might be lost, and at the same time offering an example to the whole community of what can be achieved. The people of Ipswich benefit from living in a town which has buildings of greater architectural and historical interest and a stronger visual character and sense of place than would be the case without it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 27, 2010, 09:41:38 PM
So you've just tried to pass  premise as fact?

Secondly: you've just cut and pasted a mission statement from another trust to try to support earlier claims of failed private commercial projects

Thirdly: do you have evidence to support your arguement?

Here's a hypothetical:

Ignore the fact the Mechanics Institute is a listed building, in what way is the building not commercially viable?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 28, 2010, 08:58:31 AM
Daniel

Forefronts plans 3-4 years ago were perfectly viable - The council were prepared to pass them, even English Heritage were albeit reluctantly prepared to accept them. Unfortunately due to the stupitiyy of our planning guidelines - community use (as long as it is itself a viable alternative) prevents commercial users getting planning for alterations to listed buildings. Up pipes the NMIPT and the plans are scuppered.

Now several years down the line we still have a f***ing carbuncle and the NMIPt bleating.

As the trust is obviously totally incapable of action the best thing they can do for the good of Swindon it to disband themselves immediately.

The building has a commercial value of several million once you are gone
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on October 28, 2010, 09:30:44 AM
"The building has a commercial value of several million once you are gone"

Is this a premise or a fact ?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 10:06:20 AM
Several of the comments show the high degree of misinformation and misinformed opinion facing this issue. I have said these facts so many times but I briefly make them clear once more:

1) If you believe that Forefront's Plan were viable then that is your choice. The Trust (and the majority of statutory stakeholders) believes for the reasons I have laid out previously that they were not. The Trust isn't to blame if you have views about this country's planning system - I suggest you take this complaint to the appropriate authorities on the matter. I would argue that if you took the time to look through all the facts and actions of the last 20 years regarding this issue it is not the Trust who have been shown as "totally incapable" but Swindon Borough Council.

2) It is totally misguided to think that by removing the Trust the building then has a commercial value. Regardless of the Trust the building is still: listed, in a conservation area, a building "at risk" and has a Use classification which is valid and requires proving that it is no longer viable before an alternative is considered. This is fact and planning law.

3) I fail to see the point of saying "ignore the fact the building is listed". The building IS listed and is in a conservation area. That is fact and again is subject to planning guidelines. If the building wasn't listed and wasn't in a conservation area then I have no doubt the building wouldn't be there at all and would probably be another poor quality development which Swindon has to put up with. The Mechanics' still being there represents an opportunity to contribute something truly useful, special and that celebrates our heritage. We should be so proud of Swindon's history and heritage and be excited by the possibility of being part of a World Heritage Site of the GWR. Come on we deserve better in Swindon surely?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on October 28, 2010, 10:16:39 AM
 "The Mechanics' still being there represents an opportunity to contribute something truly useful, special and that celebrates our heritage." - D Rose

here here

or is it

hear hear

however

I would add - useful, special, celebrates heritage...AND RESPONDS TO CURRENT (and as far as can be envisaged)...FUTURE COMMUNITY NEEDS
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on October 28, 2010, 10:19:52 AM
HEAR HEAR - for the wiki record..

Hear, hear
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
   Look up hear, hear in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Hear, hear is an expression used as a short repeated form of hear him, hear him. It represents a listener's agreement with the point being made by a speaker. It is often incorrectly spelled "here here"[1]
It was originally an imperative for directing attention to speakers, and has since been used, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, as "the regular form of cheering in the House of Commons", with many purposes depending on the intonation of its user.[2] Its use in Parliament is linked to the fact that applause is normally (though not always) forbidden in the chambers of the House of Commons and House of Lords.[3]
The phrase hear him, hear him! was used in Parliament since the late 17th century, and had been reduced to hear! or hear, hear! by the late 18th century. The verb hear had earlier been used in the King James Bible as a command for others to listen.[2]
Other phrases have been derived from hear, hear, such as a hear, hear (a cheer), to hear-hear (to shout the expression), and hear-hearer (a person who does the same).[2]
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 10:21:43 AM
I quite like this Building Preservation Trust story, some similarities perhaps. I've contacted them to find out more: http://www.worthingdome.com/history.html (http://www.worthingdome.com/history.html)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 10:29:46 AM
It was a hypothetical question Mr Rose, if the building was NOT listed why is it not suitable for commercial development?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 10:41:26 AM
If the building wasn't listed I believe it wouldn't be there at all, as I said earlier. But IF it wasn't and it was still standing it may well be commercially viable. Surely that is obvious. Listing is there to protect heritage from inappropriate development and to ensure our heritage is there for future generations.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 10:52:14 AM
So I can safely assume that you have no evidence to support earlier claims that the building is not commercially viable for the sole fact that it is a listed building, do you not feel that your current argument to date is not prepared and hollow?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 11:12:36 AM
I think you are missing the point entirely. There seems to be some assumption that anything a private business puts forward must somehow be viable. Just because the owner put forward planning permission for say a hotel (and putting to one side the huge amount of conservation considerations) doesn't equal viability, the business plan alongside it does and the likely confidence and quality of the developer in question. Both of these "tests" were not in place in any major confidence as far as I am led to believe from key stakeholders at the time.

So in summary:
1) The owner is unable to gain listed building consent and planning permission to support his plans.
2) The quality of these plans in any case were always questionable and not up to the standard that any serious developer would of attempted.
3) The lack of confidence in the overall viability of the proposal and the developer in question to deliver it.

Regardless of how good any owners ideas were you cannot escape the basic fact of the buildings listing and historic context and the impact that has on planning, the local community, transport planning etc.

I believe very strongly that the Trust's policy and arguments to date have been entirely consistent and based on fact and/or educated and professional judgment of the situation. We have always backed up our representations within the context of planning law and good practice and we have consistently been backed up by other statutory stakeholders such The Theatres Trust and The Victorian Society and by independent inspectors such as with the Central Area Action Plan hearing.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 11:42:29 AM
Quote
I think you are missing the point entirely. There seems to be some assumption that anything a private business puts forward must somehow be viable. Just because the owner put forward planning permission for say a hotel (and putting to one side the huge amount of conservation considerations) doesn't equal viability, the business plan alongside it does and the likely confidence and quality of the developer in question. Both of these "tests" were not in place in any major confidence as far as I am led to believe from key stakeholders at the time.
im not missing the point, its not an assumption. If a business puts plan forward there must be at least some commercial viability. Key stakeholders? Mr Singh on behalf of Forefront Estates is the only stakeholder in the building and with (more then likely) considerably more resources to hand than the trust the plans i see would be better prepared than the trusts.

Quote
So in summary:
1) The owner is unable to gain listed building consent and planning permission to support his plans.
2) The quality of these plans in any case were always questionable and not up to the standard that any serious developer would of attempted.
3) The lack of confidence in the overall viability of the proposal and the developer in question to deliver it.

1) why would he need listed status to re-develop a listed building?
2)i think the quality of your plans are somewhat questionable as the plans are lacking in detail, do you have a better proposal than your current one?
3) the lack in confidence lies within the trust, viability...you so far have failed to produce evidence of this so your statement is entirely pre-determined on a single variable which is held redundant in the absence of supporting evidence.

Quote
Regardless of how good any owners ideas were you cannot escape the basic fact of the buildings listing and historic context and the impact that has on planning, the local community, transport planning etc.
but you cannot escape the fact Mr Singh has money to pump into the local economy, infrastructure. a couple of questions arise from your statement:

1) do you have substantial evidence of the impact on transportation and infrastructure?
2) would it not be beneficial to the local community as it will provide extra jobs during re-development and after?
3) if you do not agree that it will provide jobs what evidence do you hold to support your claim of effects on the local economy
4) do you agree that the trusts objections are entirely fueled on the basis the building is listed?

Quote
I believe very strongly that the Trust's policy and arguments to date have been entirely consistent and based on fact and/or educated and professional judgment of the situation. We have always backed up our representations within the context of planning law and good practice and we have consistently been backed up by other statutory stakeholders such The Theatres Trust and The Victorian Society and by independent inspectors such as with the Central Area Action Plan hearing.

1) have any of theses trusts purchased any part of the building? if not then they are not statutory stakeholders within the building, the only stakeholder is Mr Singh
if you do not own something you cannot claim it is yours!
2)your argument is not based on fact, let it be known you have not supplied any information to date concerning private commercial schemes within listed buildings that have failed.
3) professional judgment? whom are you referring to Mr Rose?

and lastly if the trust has been consistent in regards to backing up their arguments then why :
1)cant you show evidence of failed private commercial schemes operating out of listed buildings
2)cant you show evidence of the mechanics institute not being commercially viable other then the fact the building is listed
3) have you made claims without any supporting evidence
4) is the trusts plan so much better than anything Forefront estates can produce?

one last thing

if you get the building how will you fund the re-development? because on a social enterprise model grants are not used, so where will the money come from?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 12:17:44 PM
Your answers show a range of total misunderstandings of the issues at hand.

1) The owner is not the only stakeholder. He is the owner yes but due to the nature of the building there are a range of stakeholders involved some with statutory powers and a right to be involved and consulted. Others are interested parties.
For example the following are statutory:
English Heritage
Theatres Trust
Victorian Society
Ancient Monuments Society
Swindon Borough Council - planning authority

2) Again an assumption that the owner has money. I would question this as I'm sure others would.

3) I would argue that the owners plans should be more prepared than the Trust's as he is the owner but the reality is that actually the opposite is true. The Trust has been proven correct at our interpretation of planning guidance, gained Listed Building Consent for our plans, produced several feasibility studies, costings and market research and gained public support through several thousand members.

4) He needs to gain Listed Building Consent for any plans he puts forward as well as the standard planning permission. He has not been able to gain this for the building as a whole. The Trust has.

5) The Trust's plans have been through testing and been fully prepared by an architect and gained Listed Building Consent. They are currently being prepared for further work to update the figures and market data. This is a time consuming and costly exercise and the Trust has waited to update them until the situation looked more positive in terms of ownership change. I admit that the Trust's website is in dire need of development and this is currently in hand.

6) The impact on wider planning, transport etc is documented in feedback from planning applications made by the owner in the past. Take a look back through yourself. Also these are the types of normal concerns and questions raised during planning matters and I certainly recall being in meetings where these concerns were raised by bodies, cllrs etc other than the Trust.

7) The local economy would of course benefit from any restoration process (if local contractors were chosen, which I would hope) also any on-going use would (well, residential less so). The point is the Trust's proposals do all this and more, by delivering social benefits too.

8) The whole point of Building Preservation Trusts is that they concentrate on listed buildings.

9) Social enterprises. As I explained earlier. Grants are used to restore the building from Heritage Lottery and others. The on-going core costs and operation would be covered by income generation from the uses some of which would generate greater profit which would be-reinvested into the building and covering core costs, instead of creating profit for a private owner or shareholders.

I fail to see the benefit to anyone your continuous unhelpful and repetitive questioning based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of the issues and facts regarding heritage and planning. Perhaps you should spend some time researching personally my arguments and the wider issue more fully before you continually confuse the conversation.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 12:34:34 PM
Your answers show a range of total misunderstandings of the issues at hand.

1) The owner is not the only stakeholder. He is the owner yes but due to the nature of the building there are a range of stakeholders involved some with statutory powers and a right to be involved and consulted. Others are interested parties.
For example the following are statutory:
English Heritage
Theatres Trust
Victorian Society
Ancient Monuments Society
Swindon Borough Council - planning authority

2) Again an assumption that the owner has money. I would question this as I'm sure others would.

3) I would argue that the owners plans should be more prepared than the Trust's as he is the owner but the reality is that actually the opposite is true. The Trust has been proven correct at our interpretation of planning guidance, gained Listed Building Consent for our plans, produced several feasibility studies, costings and market research and gained public support through several thousand members.

4) He needs to gain Listed Building Consent for any plans he puts forward as well as the standard planning permission. He has not been able to gain this for the building as a whole. The Trust has.

5) The Trust's plans have been through testing and been fully prepared by an architect and gained Listed Building Consent. They are currently being prepared for further work to update the figures and market data. This is a time consuming and costly exercise and the Trust has waited to update them until the situation looked more positive in terms of ownership change. I admit that the Trust's website is in dire need of development and this is currently in hand.

6) The impact on wider planning, transport etc is documented in feedback from planning applications made by the owner in the past. Take a look back through yourself. Also these are the types of normal concerns and questions raised during planning matters and I certainly recall being in meetings where these concerns were raised by bodies, cllrs etc other than the Trust.

7) The local economy would of course benefit from any restoration process (if local contractors were chosen, which I would hope) also any on-going use would (well, residential less so). The point is the Trust's proposals do all this and more, by delivering social benefits too.

8) The whole point of Building Preservation Trusts is that they concentrate on listed buildings.

9) Social enterprises. As I explained earlier. Grants are used to restore the building from Heritage Lottery and others. The on-going core costs and operation would be covered by income generation from the uses some of which would generate greater profit which would be-reinvested into the building and covering core costs, instead of creating profit for a private owner or shareholders.

I fail to see the benefit to anyone your continuous unhelpful and repetitive questioning based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of the issues and facts regarding heritage and planning. Perhaps you should spend some time researching personally my arguments and the wider issue more fully before you continually confuse the conversation.

again no evidence to support your argument. how am i confusing the  conversation?
im asking full and valid questions and what exactly have i misunderstood? point them out exactly.
if you wish to turn your argument onto the premise of misunderstanding perhaps you should read back through your own posts to have a look at the contradictory arguments and false claims that you yourself have put forward, i have pointed a few out in previous posts...ill let you look back through your own work. see if you can spot them all ;)

which trusts are interested parties from statutory stakeholders and what legal ties do they hold with the building?
you question the owners financial situation, if hes tried several times to develop the site then surely he would have the funds?
 how much will the costs be to re-develop the mechanics?
who was the architect that proposed the plans?

im assuming you have no compiled evidence to hand regarding transport planning?
if you have several thousand members why is the building still under ownership of Forefront Estates surely funds from members would significantly increase the chance for an ownership bid? furthermore why didnt the trust bid for it at time of sale?
what extra benefits would the trusts plan bring to the economy?

Quote
The Trust's plans have been through testing and been fully prepared by an architect and gained Listed Building Consent. They are currently being prepared for further work to update the figures and market data. This is a time consuming and costly exercise and the Trust has waited to update them until the situation looked more positive in terms of ownership change. I admit that the Trust's website is in dire need of development and this is currently in hand.

but surely with several thousand members cost shouldn't be a problem?
are you anticipating ownership change?
admit the website is in dire need of development? it certainly does

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 28, 2010, 12:57:07 PM
Daniel

The only reason that the owner is unable to gain listed building consent is beacuse of the existance of the NMIPT. Planning guidelines are quite CLEAR on this.

There are 4  conditions, which need to be met before the planning authority cn grant listed building consent. The relevant 2 are that there is no Community Trust to take on the building  - and that's the sticking point.

If the trust ceased to exist then the council could grant permission.
The other one is that the Community Trust has to have a viable proposal - in the case of NMIPT put simply  YOU DON'T! Your plans seem to be based round raising income from the theatre - Swindon simply doesn't need another 300 seat theatre -the arts centre is recently refurbished, and has plenty of spare dates.

Wether or not the owners plans work out commercially is not Swindon's problem - let him have planning permission and he takes the financial risk.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 02:14:49 PM
This is totally crazy. I think you believe the Trust has more power and influence than it does. It does need to be proved that its historic use is not feasible before alternatives are considered. The council should of done this years ago but failed to listen to the Trust's argument that it was ignoring PPG.15 which was only proven at the Central Area Action Plan hearing in 2008. This is about Use not necessarily the existence of a Trust, although the policy points out that such Trusts are a common solution - but its not a prerequisite.

The Trust does have a viable proposal which we have always wanted to work with SBC to have this heard and developed further, however at every turn SBC have refused to even entertain discussion on the matter and proposals in any depth or open-mindedness. It is not the case at all that the Trust's business plan are based around income from the theatre and it is a misrepresentation that you would make this point.

It would be a disgrace that you would entrust a grade 2* listed building in a nationally significant conservation area with potential world heritage status to an owner that you don't care if his plans work or not. This building is not some throw away commodity.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 02:25:54 PM
So where is this plan? If its the one on your site then no wonder SBC are ignoring you.

In your counter argument regarding trusts powers, any evidence to support this statement? 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 02:38:30 PM
The plans on the website are meant to be for illustrative purposes, easily accessible to give people an overall impression and approach of our proposals. The website shows the broad themes and uses but we don't publish our full business plan, market data etc on-line especially as some of this is commercially sensitive information. This is quite normal practice which I'm sure you would appreciate. We will however be producing refreshed data, costings and uses in the coming months to help inform the Trust's and any partner organisations decision making process.

For background we have done the following work previously:
1995 Survey on uses.
1996 Feasibility Study; valuation; published plans.
2000 Second survey on uses.
2003 Further feasibility planning
2005 Listed Building Consent Granted.

Above business planning was in part paid for by the Architectural Heritage Fund as a grant to the Trust.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 28, 2010, 02:54:13 PM
Daniel

PPG15 is quite specific - if the trust did not exist then SBC could grant planning. It IS your mere existance that prevents this and THAT is why the planning inspector ruled the way he did.

The owners plans preserved as much of the old part of the building as possible - what was to go is the 1930's carbuncle.

As your proposals are ridiculous - will ultimately cost the Council Tax payers money, and cannot even begin to happen unless SBC come onside, if you really care about the building then disolve yourselves.

As for the nonsense about World Heritage site - Get real! London / Sheppard street needs levelling - and the works the other side of the tracks have totally changed the character.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 03:12:07 PM
Commercially sensitive? That's interesting.

As for the various studies carried out between 95 to 2005, are they available online?

and have you found any examples of failed commercial business's operating out of listed buildings?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 04:06:52 PM
Daniel you can put a stop to all these discussions about your credibility by telling us how you intend to raise money and gain ownership.  Anything else is simple frivolity.

The present owner has proven his ability to raise funds otherwise he would not have been able to borrow.

You cannot simply continue to expect things from other people such as SBC you have to go and prove you have substance and are more than a simple pressure group.  Time is running out for you and what you want, you have to do something tangible that we can all support and that is proving how much funding you can secure in your own right.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 28, 2010, 04:35:56 PM
Or else Daniel - get Rikki Hunt onboard. One mention of his name and Rod will open up the SBC cheque book.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ben Reid on October 28, 2010, 05:02:34 PM
Hasn't Mr Richard Hunt already tried to get the mechanics for an anonymous buyer?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 05:10:48 PM
Actually Daniel are you in 'training' for the position of Leader of Swindon Borough Council as you are starting to read like Rod Bluh.  Too much irelevent information and no substance to what is important and no clarity.

Just simplify your message, the more complicated it is the less impact it will have and the less we can support you
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 05:11:42 PM
Or else Daniel - get Rikki Hunt onboard. One mention of his name and Rod will open up the SBC cheque book.

Now ph there is a man with whom you can do business.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 05:48:58 PM
Actually Daniel are you in 'training' for the position of Leader of Swindon Borough Council as you are starting to read like Rod Bluh.  Too much irelevent information and no substance to what is important and no clarity.

Just simplify your message, the more complicated it is the less impact it will have and the less we can support you

Blimey Richard I hope that was a joke!

As for the message. I wish it was simple but this is not a simple issue. By reducing it it will only leads to the types of misinformation that I've been reading so much of. However the basic message is: I believe we deserve better in Swindon than what we have been dealt to date, not just with the treatment of the Mechanics' but Planning as a whole and also the political culture which pours out of SBC. The Mechanics' acts as a very good symbol of the state of deep routed issues in the town. We can only achieve a better town if we all pull together, raise our expectations and push hard on our political leaders and say enough is enough. I think many on Talk Swindon essentially want the same?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 05:55:58 PM
Daniel you can put a stop to all these discussions about your credibility by telling us how you intend to raise money and gain ownership.  Anything else is simple frivolity.

The present owner has proven his ability to raise funds otherwise he would not have been able to borrow.

You cannot simply continue to expect things from other people such as SBC you have to go and prove you have substance and are more than a simple pressure group.  Time is running out for you and what you want, you have to do something tangible that we can all support and that is proving how much funding you can secure in your own right.

Richard you know that I have answered this question about raising money and ownership so many times on TS already.

As for the owners ability to raise funds I don't want to make any personal comments beyond what I have said previously. However this could be a good example of how the property boom and the banks reckless lending practices allowed to lend money on projects such as the Mechanics' and to such high risk limited companies. Its totally crazy and deeply worrying but does illustrate what was going on in the financial sector. Anyway that is just my personal view...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 05:59:22 PM
Richard you know that I have answered this question about raising money and ownership so many times on TS already.


Sorry Daniel I must have missed it so could you please advise us once again so we are clear as to how you intend to achieve it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 06:19:43 PM
Taken from previous posts and added to:

...a different approach or financial model is required, in this case a social enterprise. This is not something new or fancy and it happens all over the country in heritage buildings not unlike the Mechanics’. It is on the principles of social enterprise that the Trust’s plans are based.
Of course there is a need for the initial investment, but as with many heritage restoration projects the initial investment is the easier part and I think that is particularly true for the Mechanics’ as a nationally and internationally significant building and best example of its kind. Heritage Lottery Funds and others are there for this very reason and there would be a need to raise some funds locally and in-kind. The challenges of securing a return on investment in heritage is a widespread concern and known as “heritage deficit”, something the current owner has been shown. The more important bit however is securing a long term, sustainable and viable future for the building to support itself. The business plans and market research conducted by the Trust show how this could be achieved and that it warrants further study which we are doing over the coming months. The Trust felt strongly that we wanted to avoid the need for grants and subsidy each year to cover core costs so we have proposed that the commercial uses (such as conferencing, retail and food outlets) support those non-profit making uses and contribute more to the core running costs. It is also a good model as by having a range of income streams you spread your risk and reliance. This is a standard social enterprise approach whereby any earned income and profit gets re-invested into the operation and charity rather than the pockets of shareholders.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 06:45:19 PM
Sorry Daniel that was hard work and I am none the wiser for the experience!

You need to say in one sentence preferably how you intend to raise the money to buy the building?  Heritage Lottery funding and and another Resotorations series can come later but without ownership you are wasting your time.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 28, 2010, 07:21:30 PM
Don't forget richard, daniel has already stated he wants Mr Singh to hand the building over
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 28, 2010, 07:23:04 PM
Richard you ask for answers to complicated issues and then moan about having to read them, these are not simple matters and that is a fact.

Once more on ownership (one sentence won't cut it):
Regardless of some previous comments to this I will restate that I believe the building has little or no market value. While the Trust could approach him direct we cannot use lottery money to pay more than the buiding is worth which at the last official valuation was £1 and now the building is in even worse a state. The urgent works notice and the subequent council action has triggered a legal process which could end in compolsory purchase (if the owner does not pay the bill) in which case the owner will also recieve next to nothing. If the owner has any sense or cares about the building he would give up now and hand over the building, cut his loses and walk away without having to go through the legal mess and time. However as/if facts change the Trust will review its policy to gaining ownership but at this stage our preferred option is to try and influence SBC to work in partnership with us and arrange a "back to back" handover of the building.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 28, 2010, 07:40:51 PM
Ii think the trust should cut its loses and back down
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 28, 2010, 11:15:55 PM
Am I having a bad day or is anyone else having difficulty in trying to understand what the Mechanics' Trust are doing and how they intend to achieve their ambition for a building they don't even own or ever hope to but expect to be given by the current owner? :-\

Please note I have used my second smiley in an attempt to lighten up proceedings!!

Going to bed now!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 29, 2010, 08:20:37 AM
Sorry Daniel £1 - he site is worth upwards of £1 million, and therein lies your's and SBC's problem.
If you think the building is going to be handed to the trust for £1 - then you are seriously deluded.

It would as Mellon says be much better for Swindon if the trust backed away now.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on October 29, 2010, 08:37:42 AM
I have no problem in understanding Daniel's postings. 

I understand the Trust's aims, I understand the Trust is run by volunteers, some may think this means amatuers, but I have yet to meet a group less amatuer in the way they go about things with regard to the Mechanics building. 

I understand the listed buildings laws and I understand partnerships to get funding to take over/restoration. And I know this is possible.

Daniel, you could clog up Talkswindon with explanations but you understand more than the people asking questions.  Why some should be so irritated by the Trust I don't understand. Do not give up.

The law of the land says what/how the building should be used/treated not the Trust.  This an important heritage building in an important heritage area, part of heritage that is regionally and the nationally important.  That is not just a matter of my or the Trust's opinion. 

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 29, 2010, 08:46:16 AM
Ok this isn't getting anywhere. I can only give you these answers so many times. For those of you that really want the answers then do some research for yourself if you won't believe me. For example the history of Compulsory Purchase, the stats of how owners behave and the typical amounts paid to owners if it goes to full proceedings. Also the role of Building Preservation Trusts or best practice from English Heritage and Planning Policy Guidance/Statements relating to the historic environment etc.

All of these and more I have explained to you but perhaps by looking for yourself you will understand the issue further and we can move this discussion on.

 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on October 29, 2010, 08:46:51 AM
Thank you Muggins!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on October 29, 2010, 08:56:11 AM
Agreed, Muggins. It's all becoming a bit circular.

From my vantage point yesterday, it looks like the roof is still off. Any idea what work is currently being undertaken? Any updates on how it's going?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 29, 2010, 09:13:55 AM
Whatever happens at the end of the day it will be deternined by whoever is prepared to put their hand in their pocket and we could well be faced with the law of unintended consequences.

Although not for the want of trying I am still at a loss to understand who will come forward and present the Mechanics' Trust with the building and a free hand to do with it as it chooses.

All the above said, what will be will be and nevertheless despite what I have written here Daniel I do wish you well and am now signing off in the hope next year bears some fruit.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on October 29, 2010, 11:48:25 AM
Daniel is giving some good answers but he hasn't answered all of the questions put to him. It looks to now be a case of "get the research yourself", there's a small amount of truth in this as a small amount of research that should be done by the questioners, BUT in light of daniels position he should have the research to hand or at least a basic idea of specific research.

Now that itself raises an interesting point regarding the integrity of the trust and the trusts position, the trust is not prepared properly, its not in the best position it could be, but more importantly what has the trust got to show other then the fact it HAS played a role in delaying the re-development of a glorious building. And seeing the plan has no clear plan of what it wants to do with the building IF it gets its ultimate goal of ownership, it makes you think about the business plan that will not be published due to commercially sensitive data.....keeping everyone in the dark, sounds very much like the current council and the wifi scheme   
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: hopeful on October 29, 2010, 01:51:03 PM
Hi folks,

I'm a newbie so please be nice.

I was born and bred in Swindon, left for several years, and then came back.  I'm not one for history aesthetics and/or sentimentalism, but on returning to Swindon, the Mechanics' - a building I'd not paid much attention to as a child - caught my attention.  There's not much left that counts a pretty or historic in Swindon but the beautiful and grand presence of the Mechanics' has captivated me and I long for it to be preserved, restored and put to good use.

I'm also not a politician, builder, architect, or planner.  I'm merely a Swindon resident who has a heart for this building.

I'm concerned that what I read here isn't constructive.  Daniel, the guy from the Trust has been politley answering questions at length and contributing to the discussion whereas I see nothing from the council or from the current owner, yet the Trust is being slated for bad PR?

From what I can tell as a complete amateur the building's in the state it's in because:
 - the owner was not granted permission on a plan that was not good enough for the building or the local area (I'm confused about this - some say the existence of the Trust prevented permission, others say that the plans were not up to scratch?)
 - the owner has failed to carry out works to protect the building from decay while he revises plans or arranges sale - even once issued with an urgent works notice
 - the council don't seem to have done very much at all
 - there's no one else with any ideas or plans for the place

Daniel's Trust seem to be the only people with a plan for the good of the building but need to work with the council and/or the owner to make anything happen.  I've not read the plan in detail and don't get where that initial 12m would come from (grants alone?  some kind of private investment in the social enterprise?), but even so, why are the Trust being beaten up about it?

Who has better ideas?  Are there commercial alternatives on the table?  The only ones I've read about here don't seem to be of good enough quality.

Some here seem upset that the Trust might be responsible for the state of the building when, as far as I can tell, the building's in the state it's in because of the owner and the council?

If people think a commercial solution is more viable then why are the Trust being got at?  Where is this commercial solution?  And why isn't the owner protecting the building while he develops new plans?

If you think a commercial approach is the answer, don't beat Daniel up - beat up the owner who's neglected the building for so long and encourage him to put in some plans that will work.

This conversation has got incredibly negative.  For whatever reason, we are where we are.  Can we use this forum for good?  If you don't think the Trust's plans are good enough, why not help them develop them?  Pass on your ideas for improvement?  Get involved and make them plans that work?

Everyone here seems to have a wealth of knowledge and expertise about things that I don't know about and don't really want to know about.  You seem to have some time to research, formulate opinions and write.  You seem to have connections and contacts.  You seem to have a passion for keeping this building upright.

I reckon that to save this building we need to be fighting all corners.  We need to push for a good-enough commercial solution to be on the table.  We need to be supporting the Trust in getting their plans in place should compulsory purchase happen.  And we need to be hassling the council to make sure they're playing their part too.

I know you have differences but can you guys not stop arguing and start working together for the good of the Mechanics'?  Focus on the solution that you think works and help make it happen as quickly as you can?

Hopeful responses only please. :-)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on October 29, 2010, 02:24:30 PM
Hopeful , I fully echo your sentiments, and I don't for one minute doubt the integrtiy or the Zeal and enthusiasm of the trust.

What worries me is that the Trust don't seem to be aware of the consequences of their actions. It is indisputable that the owners last plans WOULD have been passed were it not for the trust's intervention. Despite the trust and one or two other people trying to argue otherwise, planning guidelines (PPG15) are clear - permission can in certain circumstances be granted for commercial development of buildings like the Mechanics. Had the trust not been in existance then the inspector would have allowed the application - one of the criterior being that before permission can be granted there must be no "public" alternative.

We are noe several years furthur down the line and the trust have not moved forward one inch. It is for that reason that I argue that the Trust should disband and let the building be developed commercially. The trust's continued existance will almost certainly lead to a protracted Court case, were any attempt be mad to persue a CPO. The buildings owner and HSBS have too much money tied up for any other outcome. The most likely losers are the council tax payers of Swindon.

The Trust are making too much of the importance of the building - the owners last plan saved as much as possible of the old part of the building. What was to go was the North end, which is largely a 1930's extension.

For the sake of Swindon and the building - the NMIPT must disband.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on November 02, 2010, 02:19:00 PM
For information. Following the discussions recently on this forum and those that rejected the Trust's view that the Mechanics' had little or no market value I wanted to let you see this document. The link will open up the valuation the Trust paid for back in 1998 from the official District Valuer giving his professional opinion of the building value. Since then the building has been upgrade to Grade 2*, continued neglect by the current owner, further limited re-develop opportunities and subject to an urgent works notice. With this in mind the building is certainly still lacking in any value.
http://db.tt/6B45xXH (http://db.tt/6B45xXH)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Whipling on November 02, 2010, 02:50:14 PM
Hear, hear Hopeful. Sentiments echoed exactly.

Apologies that the positivity couldn't even last the one reply though   :(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 02, 2010, 05:49:55 PM
Interesting Document but why hasn't it been published before?

It was of course valued some twelve years ago and things do change.

and at the end of the day it is still owned by Forefront Estates and with ownership being absolute we could still be talking about this in another twelve years time, sadly  :'(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on November 05, 2010, 06:01:36 PM
Excuse the delay Richard, missed this. The Trust needs to embark on a massive archive programme but this is a time consuming job which will have to wait given the important issues at play at the moment. We are however in the process of cataloging our book collection (including quite a volume of historic Mechanics' books) which is quite extensive and this database will be made available online and to be viewed by appointment.

The valuation is indeed old now but given the facts there is no way the basic value would of changed today.

I don't feel at all that we will still be talking about the ownership in 12 years time, I think things will all come to a head in the coming months.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on December 22, 2010, 10:41:52 AM
Festive wishes to you all. Today the Mechanics' Institution Trust has officially launched a new brand and website. Please check it out over Christmas: www.mechanics-trust.org.uk (http://www.mechanics-trust.org.uk) you can also follow us on Twitter: mechanics_trust

Further developments, functions and content will be added over the coming months but I hope you like phase 1.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on December 22, 2010, 11:25:03 AM
very clean website daniel, looks good.

any news on the building handover?  :santa_smiley:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on December 22, 2010, 11:35:26 AM
Quote
Daniel's Trust seem to be the only people with a plan for the good of the building but need to work with the council and/or the owner to make anything happen.

The operative word is 'seem'.  I can assure you that others, including me have identified other ways to untie the Gordian Knot which binds this issue.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on December 22, 2010, 12:09:59 PM
very clean website daniel, looks good.

any news on the building handover?  :santa_smiley:

Thanks.
I wish I had more positive news to give today but not really no. The last couple of months have been excellent in terms of dealing with all major stakeholders but SBC have been the one unsatisfactory group. They are continuing to not engage with the Trust constructively even though I've been working hard with Robert Buckland to resolve this situation neither of us have yet been very successful. Robert has been great and seems to understand the issues at play, as well as the Trust's position. We will continue to try in the New Year with a fresh approach.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: swindonlinkman on December 23, 2010, 10:49:32 AM
The last couple of months have been excellent in terms of dealing with all major stakeholders
Quote
but SBC have been the one unsatisfactory group.

Far too much for them to engage localism, transparancy and grassroots decision making when and where it really counts.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on December 23, 2010, 10:33:07 PM
 :wakeup: :bash:
Gosh! Slow down folks, for is not what you are chasing right behind you.
Take a look at the picture, at the beginning of this thread. A ten storey greenhouse, in the middle of a prospective world heritage site (yes, seriously).
There are those that believe the trust got in the way of that development. So what?
If they did so then all praise to them, and huge shame on SBC, if SBC did not oppose it.
Take a look at the New Lanark / Robert Owen, World Heritage Site. Is that not the sort of thing Swindon should want? A formidabe history of reform, culture, forward thinking, community?
Well, substitute the woollen mill, for the railway works. substitute Robert Owen for Minard Rea, plus The Mechanics' Institute, and the (victorian) Swindon Improvement Company, and we've got it already, in spades.
I don't know why Richard is so obsessed, with questioning the ability of the trust, to pay for its' somewhat better plans, but with £26million (I believe) earmarked for new civic offices, I'd say we have the money.
Those worried about a revenue return, again check out New Lanark. A world Heritage site is pretty lucrative (the Scots don't have a reputation for squandering cash ;-))
I don't want to get personal, BUT after intensely questioning Daniel, for the majority of this thread, Richard said he was signing off and wishing the trust well?
Within a posting he was back with more negativity.
Spill the beans Richards. Is this because ;-
(a) You love ten storey greenhouses?
(b) You secretly hate Daniel?
(c) You are Matthews secret love child?
(d) A more pallatable reason?
:santa_azn:


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on December 23, 2010, 11:24:56 PM
:santa_grin:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 15, 2011, 11:28:53 AM
:wakeup: :bash:
Gosh! Slow down folks, for is not what you are chasing right behind you.
Take a look at the picture, at the beginning of this thread. A ten storey greenhouse, in the middle of a prospective world heritage site (yes, seriously).
There are those that believe the trust got in the way of that development. So what?
If they did so then all praise to them, and huge shame on SBC, if SBC did not oppose it.
Take a look at the New Lanark / Robert Owen, World Heritage Site. Is that not the sort of thing Swindon should want? A formidabe history of reform, culture, forward thinking, community?
Well, substitute the woollen mill, for the railway works. substitute Robert Owen for Minard Rea, plus The Mechanics' Institute, and the (victorian) Swindon Improvement Company, and we've got it already, in spades.
I don't know why Richard is so obsessed, with questioning the ability of the trust, to pay for its' somewhat better plans, but with £26million (I believe) earmarked for new civic offices, I'd say we have the money.
Those worried about a revenue return, again check out New Lanark. A world Heritage site is pretty lucrative (the Scots don't have a reputation for squandering cash ;-))
I don't want to get personal, BUT after intensely questioning Daniel, for the majority of this thread, Richard said he was signing off and wishing the trust well?
Within a posting he was back with more negativity.
Spill the beans Richards. Is this because ;-
(a) You love ten storey greenhouses?
(b) You secretly hate Daniel?
(c) You are Matthews secret love child?
(d) A more pallatable reason?
:santa_azn:

I have only just noticed this posting whilst looking for something else.

In answer to your questions in order.

1.  I do not like ten storey greenhouses and actually approve of the trust's proposals.

2.  I don't dislike Daniel Rose, I just don't understand him.  How does that amount to dislike?

3.  I don't have to answer this one because you know the answer already.

4.  How can anyone legally or reasonably expect to gain the ownership of someone elses property for £1.00 when they don't have the funds available to them and have to date shown no prospect of gaining them.   Would you personally make funding available to the Trust?

I suggest to everyone that the minimum has been done to safeguard the building and nothing further will happen for a considerable amount of time.  The owner will sit on it and can afford to do so and the Trust will be incapable of making any impact on the situation and we will be still talking about this in 2021. 

I do, from the bottom of my heart, hope that I am proven to be wrong but believe my thoughts are realistic in what are proving to be very difficult times.

In the shorterm and to show credibility why doesn't the Trust put a business plan together and offer their expertise to run the Platform for the Council and save them money as a result?  I am sure they would be grateful and this would give the Trust momentum as well as credibility.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 15, 2011, 11:53:28 AM
Hi Richard. Still not sure about point C (just kidding).
Were the trust not already doing something similar, to The Platform, way before SBC hijacked it?
Admittedly, it looks more impressive, with the carriage installed etc, but that's the advantage of being able to spend our council tax.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 15, 2011, 07:30:21 PM
ICDT I agree that it was wrong for the Council to coldly hijack what the Trust was doing with Crosspaths, but just as we are in the situation with the Mechanics that is now history and nothing can be done about it.

But in this climate where the Council is desperate to save money the worm can turn and offer a money saving alternative in the Platform in the way that I have suggested and this will then prove their credentials and offer a 'platform', please excuse the pun, for their endeavours to further their aspirations for the Mechanics.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 15, 2011, 09:12:26 PM
Yeah.
I like that thought process :)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on January 20, 2011, 11:02:55 AM
ICDT I agree that it was wrong for the Council to coldly hijack what the Trust was doing with Crosspaths, but just as we are in the situation with the Mechanics that is now history and nothing can be done about it.

But in this climate where the Council is desperate to save money the worm can turn and offer a money saving alternative in the Platform in the way that I have suggested and this will then prove their credentials and offer a 'platform', please excuse the pun, for their endeavours to further their aspirations for the Mechanics.

This is exactly why the Trust pushed so hard to take over the Former Railway Museum in the first place - we saw an important landmark under threat from a Council who were prepared to neglect it and at one point sell it without a single thought for what it could be.

The Trust eventually gained access to the building and for 5 years we delivered great work under less than ideal circumstances with our landlord. Essentially on a smaller scale demonstrated what the Trust meant by a community managed mixed use cultural and community venue, inclusive to all. I don't want to go into the issue of the Former Railway Museum and the Trust's treatment and experience now but in time the issue will need scrutiny.

Past aside the Trust is more than open to managing a range of assets in and around the Railway Village including the Platform in the future - we hold the relevant charitable powers, experience and values. The Trust has been trying to engage SBC in discussions regarding assets for some time however with the stress on public finances and the localism bill/ big society now should be new territory and the Trust is working in this arena - hopefully we will see results.

Oh yes. Quickly it seems relevant to share this. When a senior council official was recently asked how much the Platform cost the answer was: Capital cost-£1.1 million, annual running costs-£60-70k and I quote "we are quite pleased and surprised the running costs weren't higher".

I will leave you to decide whether you feel this is delivering good value for money.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Outoftowner on January 20, 2011, 11:42:41 AM
Whenever I have looked in the door of The Platform (admittedly not very many times) I have seen a large empty room but with several people behind desks or a counter on the left hand side, using computers. Presumably these are employees busily using up the £60-£70K reading The Adver on line or..............TalkSwindon?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on January 20, 2011, 02:35:13 PM
If there are 'several people' wages with oncosts, plus heating and lighting etc then £60 -70 K would be used up. 

Whether or not that was worth the money is another matter.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 21, 2011, 01:41:32 PM
OK Daniel put your bid together to save the Council £60k minimum and go public when the 'cuts' start to bite elsewhere if they do not take you seriously.

This council certainly knows how to spend our money!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on June 20, 2011, 07:31:57 PM
The Council are now taking the owner of the Mechanics to Court to recover their losses, something about which we heard at Scrutiny last Monday.

This article in the Adver appeared last Thursday.

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9089733.Mechanics____owner_faces_court_action/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9089733.Mechanics____owner_faces_court_action/)

Mechanics’ owner faces court action

9:30pm Thursday 16th June 2011

By Adam Kula »

High Court proceedings against the owner of the Mechanics’ Institute by Swindon Council.

A legal demand has been made for businessman Mathew Singh’s company Forefront Estates to pay back £334,698.86 spent by the council repairing his dilapidated building.

The council launched the work last year because otherwise the building may have started falling apart, endangering passers-by.

The council is also claiming around £15,000-worth of interest which Mr Singh is said to have racked up so far on the debt.

No defence has yet been lodged by Mr Singh, and he has until June 22 to do so. But the London-based businessman, 47, said he does intend to fight it.

Asked about the legal case, he said: “We’re defending it. We don’t agree with it.”

But asked what the future of the building might be, he said: “It’s not in my hands. It’s in the hands of English Heritage and the council.

“If it was, it’d be finished and done a long time ago. They control planning permission. It’s a listed building. We spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on fees for nothing. We’ve been led up the garden path many times by English Heritage and the council.”

Mr Singh’s plans for turning the historic building into a hotel had been thwarted in 2005.

The council’s High Court case concerns the money it spent on the “dangerous works” to the building to stop it collapsing.

But another £850,000 has also been spent on “urgent works” to stop the building deteriorating further.

A further claim will be made in future for this said the council. Until the case is resolved, the council is holding on to the keys for the building.

Dan Rose, of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, said: “Our opinion would be it’s right the council uses every opportunity it can to recover the funds that have been spent, and it’s the owner’s responsibility to pay that back.

“I’d say that it’s not for the council or English Heritage to tell him what to do with the building, but it is for them to judge what’s acceptable or not within planning law. It’s his (Mr Singh’s) responsibility to have interpreted planning law correctly and put forward appropriate and acceptable plans.”

He said whether or not he succeeded in getting planning permission was “his problem”, but he still had a duty to look after the building.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “We;ve worked hard to try and give the building a long-term viable future.

“There are plans which he (Mr Singh) proposed which were not sympathetic to the historic parts of the building.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “If companies buy listed buildings to develop them, it is their responsibility to put in planning applications that satisfy all the necessary planning, legal and regulatory requirements. In the meantime, as the private owners of a listed building, Forefront Estates had a clear legal duty to maintain the Mechanics’ Institute so that it did not deteriorate while in their possession. If they had done this, the council wouldn’t have been forced to take over the building and spend nearly £400,000 of public money to make sure it didn’t collapse, and a further £850,000 to prevent it from deteriorating further. We are now owed this money and we expect it to be paid.”



I don't think we have heard the last of this by a long chalk, in fact I believe it is only just beginning. 

I hope the Council have received sound advice and that they are not throwing good money after bad?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 21, 2011, 08:19:56 AM
Well, Mr Singh would be unable to pay back those costs if the council is successful, so would the council get the building in lieu of payment? What liability could we end up with?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 21, 2011, 09:00:57 AM
Looks like we have the liability anyway, best get something back for it, even if it is a derelict building.  Something can always be done with that.

Worst case scenario, the land will be there with which to do something.

Personally I still believe in the Trust's ability to do something, once it is in their 'hands'.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on June 21, 2011, 11:32:42 AM
Quote
Well, Mr Singh would be unable to pay back those costs if the council is successful,

That's highly speculative. He's supposed to be a 'successful' London based businessman. If he can't raise a mere £300k, he would never have had even the beginnings of the funds necessary to have developed the building. I very much doubt the borough solicitors would have risked the costs of a court case unless they'd carefully assessed Mr Singh's assets either.

 :coffee:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mellon on June 21, 2011, 12:32:31 PM
Will the council be able to take the building while the banks got a holding on it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on June 21, 2011, 12:56:27 PM
What if Mr Singh declares himself bankrupt?  Or his company becomes insolvent?

Won't the banks/creditors just take possession of the MI?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: itspavagain on June 21, 2011, 01:48:08 PM
What liability could we end up with?
Pick a number between 1 and 10.

Double it.

Add six noughts on the end.

You're getting close.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Bogomil on June 21, 2011, 02:04:42 PM
What if Mr Singh declares himself bankrupt?  Or his company becomes insolvent?

Won't the banks/creditors just take possession of the MI?


I think that people might be missing the point…

Who WANTS the white elephant….

SBC Panning won’t let it be commercially developed which makes maintaining it a highly expensive building for anyone who ends up owning it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 21, 2011, 02:15:41 PM
Bogo......Who WANTS the white elephant….?

The Mechanics Institute Trust and quite a few of the population of Swindon.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 21, 2011, 02:19:33 PM
What if Mr Singh declares himself bankrupt?  Or his company becomes insolvent?

Won't the banks/creditors just take possession of the MI?

Has SBC been in negotiation with the banks already? It's possible. For what it's worth, it strikes me as a terrible idea.

Firstly, yes the land is worth something, but so is all the other unoccupied land/empty offices in the centre of Swindon, which have far better opportunities for development.

Yes it would be sad for the building, but £1 million has been spent so far without getting us anywhere close to a usable building. How much would it cost to bring it to a basic level of repair?

Who would take possession of the building? The Trust? If the Trust are serious about taking ownership of the building, let SBC help them negotiate a knock down price and leave them to deal with all the issues. The Trust has not worked well with the council in the past and says a lot of negative (and sometimes justified) things about councillors and officers... is the idea that now th council should buy the building back, carry out all work, let the Trust use and still cover all running costs and ongoing bills?

Mr Singh's idea was not appropriate, but this sets a really bad precedent for encourage reuse of old/at risk buildings. Who else would take a building in Swindon on if there's the chance the council will block all plans and then force bankruptcy to get the property back?

And don't we have NO MONEY? We're cutting essential services believing the community should take over, and here we want to acquire an expensive white elephant?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Bogomil on June 21, 2011, 02:45:54 PM
Bogo......Who WANTS the white elephant….?

The Mechanics Institute Trust and quite a few of the population of Swindon.

Muggins, Sorry I should have qualified it further by adding  “with the money” wants it.

Being honest, neither the Mechanics Institute Trust or the residents of Swindon as a whole have got the cash to buy and restore this building and personally I wouldn’t want council tax spent on this when so many others things are of a higher priority.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 21, 2011, 03:50:10 PM
I know times are not good now, but there have been times when grant aid was available for this sort of building. (It might still be around).

It would be better not owned by the council it would be better if it had it's own Trust. It's shame a private benefactor or a business benefactor could not be found to pay the bill - that's what would have happened in the past.  Someone who didn't want to be forgotten would have stumped up for his name on a brass plaque.  And if someone did this for the Mechanics, we wouldn't forget him would we?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on June 21, 2011, 04:27:04 PM
I know times are not good now, but there have been times when grant aid was available for this sort of building. (It might still be around).

It would be better not owned by the council it would be better if it had it's own Trust. It's shame a private benefactor or a business benefactor could not be found to pay the bill - that's what would have happened in the past.  Someone who didn't want to be forgotten would have stumped up for his name on a brass plaque.  And if someone did this for the Mechanics, we wouldn't forget him would we?

Except why would a business want anything to do with the Trust?

As far as I can tell the business plan of the Trust is:
1 - Get MI for nothing
2 - Get someone to give them a LOT of money
3 - Renovate MI according to their 'vision'

If the Trust were out there saying they've raised £1million or £500k, I'd have a lot more respect for them and they'd find it far easier to get financial backing.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on June 21, 2011, 04:35:27 PM
Quote
let SBC help them negotiate a knock down price


Herein lies a problem.  HSBC are owed £1.2 million by Matthew Singh's company and allegedly SBC are attempting to place a charge on the property for a similar amount.  One of those organisations could  afford to write off £1.2 million and one can't.  Would yuo be happy for SBC to write off a £million?

So let's assume HSBC and SBC want their money that's £2.4 million - so what is the knock down price?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on June 21, 2011, 04:37:50 PM
Quote
I very much doubt the borough solicitors would have risked the costs of a court case unless they'd carefully assessed Mr Singh's assets either.

Dare I say that suggests you don't know a lot about SBC  :wink:

The £300k is only 25% of the total SBC will be asking for
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 21, 2011, 04:52:50 PM
I know times are not good now, but there have been times when grant aid was available for this sort of building. (It might still be around).

200 jobs cut at English Heritage in Swindon, with worrying rumours the NMRC might be at threat... there's not a lot of money around for heritage projects.  :(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 21, 2011, 04:53:55 PM
Quote
let SBC help them negotiate a knock down price


Herein lies a problem.  HSBC are owed £1.2 million by Matthew Singh's company and allegedly SBC are attempting to place a charge on the property for a similar amount.  One of those organisations could  afford to write off £1.2 million and one can't.  Would yuo be happy for SBC to write off a £million?

So let's assume HSBC and SBC want their money that's £2.4 million - so what is the knock down price?

What's the price to knock it down? No price would ever be good enough for the Mechanics Trust.

I had a lot of sympathy for them and their cause.



Then I met them.  :o
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 22, 2011, 08:37:31 AM
How can I put this???

When talking about the Mechanics Trust, it's best not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on June 22, 2011, 10:00:04 AM
Have to agree with Muggins there.
Chopping the building, to build another eyesore, is no better than allowing it to collapse.
 The biggest issue many have with the trust is that they've halted previous plans.
Halting plans in Swindon is not the easiest thing to do, unless there are good grounds to do so.
Previously we were led to believe that Matthew Singh was a multi-millionaire, with a bottomless pit of cash. Now it seems that was not the case?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on June 22, 2011, 11:05:08 AM
This is a very complex situation which only involves Mr Singh as a shareholder in the owning company Forefront Estates Ltd.

Mr Singh's liability is limited to the value of those shares and any personal guarantee he has made as a Director, in writing, against any monies borrowed against the value of the assets of the company.  I suggest this is limited to the value of the loan from the bank.

So even if Forefront lose this action the best the Council can hope for as a result, is

1.  Payment in Full

2. Putting forefront into Liquidation and acquiring ownership of the building. 

or

Have I missed something?

I do believe Mr Singh will come back and counter any action against his company and then things could get interesting and

EXPENSIVE

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: peach on June 22, 2011, 11:12:35 AM
2. Putting forefront into Liquidation and acquiring ownership of the building. 

My understanding is that Forefront have a mortgage for the building, so it can't be taken into council ownership....
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on June 22, 2011, 11:28:51 AM
2. Putting forefront into Liquidation and acquiring ownership of the building. 

My understanding is that Forefront have a mortgage for the building, so it can't be taken into council ownership....

I said hope for Peach.  Obviously the mortgage would have to be settled prior to Liquidation and this could be achieved in an agreement with the other creditor, the bank.

Maybe this could result in a further complication of joint ownership of the building ie the Council and the Bank.

now that could make things really interesting!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on June 22, 2011, 12:20:50 PM
Richard is correct when he says this is a complex situation however the matter has been on a legal journey (as set out in planning legislation) since early 2009 (originally started but incomplete in 2002) following the failure of the owner to undertake basic security, maintenance and safe working practices on-site. 

This legal process is in its later phase now with the court action mentioned.

Lets get one thing straight. The building will not and can not be pulled down or moved so it serves little purpose to debate this as an option.

The Mechanics' Institution Trust is the only organisation that has undertaken business planning, feasibility work, plans, gained Listed Building Consent, secured the support of stakeholders and has consistently been proven correct in our interpretation of the issues over a 16 year period often in the face of SBC acting inappropriately to say the least.

In terms of ownership the Trust made several attempts at negotiating with the private owners but they were unwilling to have sensible dialogue regarding its true value. Once it was clear that legal proceedings were inevitable the opportunity for a private sale were impossible even if Forefront Estates were willing.

The ownership issue will be resolved through this stage of legal proceedings and the Trust maintains that the building would be best placed to come into the Trust's ownership as set out in planning guidance and best practice.

Funding: The funding required for the Mechanics' is significant but it is a very significant building with national and international relevance and interest. The Trust believes that community ownership is very much the best and only feasible option and that funding sources even at this time are available. In fact Heritage Lottery Funding is due to increase substantially and many parts of the heritage sector are performing strongly in the recession. It is true that English Heritage are facing tough financial decisions but that is because they are a public body/quango reporting to Government. It is not appropriate or logical to launch public fund-raising initiatives until the right moment with issues like this but relations with key funding bodies are on-going and positive if Trust ownership is part of the roadmap - but we must get through this legal process first.

It is a shame that this forum is dragging this issue into such negativity. I acknowledge and appreciate that it is a complex and frustrating situation but lets concentrate on a positive future opportunity that could bring about huge public benefit, kick-start quality regeneration and a sense of pride and culture. Surely we all want and deserve that? I spend hours every week discussing the Mechanics' in different contexts but the positive aspects consistently outweigh the negatives whether I'm talking to residents, meeting with stakeholders, heritage bodies, taking questions after a presentation or simply when someone mentions the Mechanics' in the pub!

I'm not saying there isn't plenty of issues that should be debated which are by their nature negative or troubling (as I had to recently at SBC Scrutiny, report was posted on this forum) but a sense of balance would be welcome. 








Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on June 22, 2011, 12:41:56 PM
"I'm not saying there isn't plenty of issues that should be debated which are by their nature negative or troubling (as I had to recently at SBC Scrutiny, report was posted on this forum) but a sense of balance would be welcome.  "

Well, for what it's worth, you have my support  O0
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: swindonlinkman on June 22, 2011, 01:21:23 PM
Indeed, the Mx Trust and Daniel has mine as well. And many people around the world are now saying the regeneration of Swindon's Mechanics' Institution must be given the highest priority. Read the story from the forthcoming July Link magazine and see Daniel in the flesh so to speak at http://www.swindonlink.com/news/swindon-building-could-be-listed-amongst-world-greats (http://www.swindonlink.com/news/swindon-building-could-be-listed-amongst-world-greats)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on June 22, 2011, 01:25:20 PM
Quote
It is a shame that this forum is dragging this issue into such negativity. I acknowledge and appreciate that it is a complex and frustrating situation but lets concentrate on a positive future opportunity that could bring about huge public benefit, kick-start quality regeneration and a sense of pride and culture. Surely we all want and deserve that?

Of course we do!!! But negativity? I just read realism based on the evidence of people's eyes. It all just boils down to the same question: Where's the money coming from?

Quote
Funding: The funding required for the Mechanics' is significant but it is a very significant building with national and international relevance and interest. The Trust believes that community ownership is very much the best and only feasible option and that funding sources even at this time are available.

Repeat: Where? Who's got that sort of money at the moment?

Quote
Lets get one thing straight. The building will not and can not be pulled down or moved so it serves little purpose to debate this as an option

Except it is entirely possible - in fact, probable, given the last 30 years. Once the building has reached a sufficiently decayed state as to be declared dangerous, it will be condemned and compulsorily demolished. That's if it doesn't 'accidentally' catch fire enough times to be rendered into such a state first... Remember, when it comes to negativity, there is plenty of precedent in this town for the ultimate fate of The Mechanics.

I want the building saved too - but there are now too many rotting buildings in Swindon. Pie in the sky schemes, pipe dreams and wishes are nothing without secured funding and cold, hard cash. With the state of the economy, this isn't going to even move into the realms of potential for years. You'll need multiple millions to realise your plan - and then multiple millions on top to keep the place functioning as a community centre. Has the Heritage Lottery got a spare £20m put aside in a pot?

Sadly, I predict fifteen years of continued squabbling before a major fire and/or structural failure and the final demolition. That's fifteen years of continuing to live with the thing slowly falling apart in the heart of our town.

£50 to the Trust from me if you secure any meaningful big funding for renovation/restoration in the next ten years (I'll be genuinely happy to cough this up). In fact I'll join up and offer my masonry skills freebie too if they're wanted.
 
I want to be wrong about what's going to happen  :'(

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 22, 2011, 02:20:44 PM
I don't see this as squabbling, but as a journey through the possibilities, a development of ideas, of learning about the part that the Mechanics has in our history and the history of the country.   Knowing how long it takes to get the simplest of things, the journey has not been an long one.  It never was goign to be a magic wand job.

It's just like any military campaign, a good deal of thought, planning getting allies, figuring out the logistics, mustering and training the troups. Preparing for invasion so to speak. 

If the flipping place falls down it will just get built again. So no one pinch the rocks!

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on June 22, 2011, 02:25:26 PM
I answered the questions regarding funding sources in my original post and in the past.

Now that Urgent Work has taken place the building will be secured and not face accelerated deterioration so there is no longer any current danger of the building becoming either a safety issue or not possible to restore. Fire is a different matter although again the recent urgent works mean the building is secure and not totally accessible which is how the owner had left it for several years.

I'm glad however that you want to be proven wrong and support the Trust. I will make a note of that! :) In the end I believe fully that the Trust's position on the matter is correct and well thought through and supported. The only thing that has halted positive progress has been the Council and it is this track record which could destabilise the very opportunity in the future which I believe is both possible and deserved for the town. They work for us so lets demand better and bring the Big Society to life in Swindon.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on June 22, 2011, 03:13:48 PM
I'll add a grand to Tobes £50, so the message is clear that the public do care
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: MsD Meanor on June 22, 2011, 03:15:45 PM
I'll add another £50. I care.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on June 22, 2011, 03:59:27 PM
I'll pledge a £50 too.  We are pledging aren't we? not betting?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on June 22, 2011, 05:15:18 PM
Quote
Lets get one thing straight. The building will not and can not be pulled down or moved so it serves little purpose to debate this as an option.


Daniel - how can you possibly make such a statement and worse present it as 'fact'.

The reality is that as you or the Trust don't own the building you have zero influence over what happens to the structure. The proof of that can be seen in the absolute fact that 'things' have been done to the structure for which your approval has not been sought and for which yuor consent has not been requested.

The debate on the future of the Mechanics has been ongoing for 26 years and one option is to demolish it brick by brick and rebuild a reproduction somewhere else - that is a perfectly feasible option and to dismiss it out of hand is quite wrong.

There is one thing that we can say for sure - the interior is not salvagable never mind restorable, which leads me to the conclusion that any future work undertaken to make the MI habitable and usable will be a work of 'reproduction' and not one of 'restoration'.  Incidentally there is nothing wrong with 'reproduction' especially when the primary purpose of the exercise is to show what something looked like and what it was used for as opposed to what materials and methods of construction were used in a bygone era.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 22, 2011, 05:30:36 PM

I'm not saying there isn't plenty of issues that should be debated which are by their nature negative or troubling (as I had to recently at SBC Scrutiny, report was posted on this forum) but a sense of balance would be welcome.

I think the forum is balanced in that it expresses a range of opinions and other people have the ability to respond, refute or agree. I don't think anyone on this forum has the power to save or destroy the various heritage 'issues' happening in Swindon.

I was fairly positive about the Trust. I'm one of those rare local authority workers who likes working with the community and tries to help local people shape their services. I try not to let politics or old battles get in the way. But then I had a rather bruising encounter witha  member of the Trust (not Daniel) in which my mere existence as a council employee was enough for me to be treated as the 'enemy'. It was extremely frustrating when I was doing everything posisble to help.

Yes there should be balance, but that goes for all sides. If someone keeps insulting you, you lose the will to help quite quickly.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on June 22, 2011, 06:18:30 PM
Quote
Yes there should be balance, but that goes for all sides. If someone keeps insulting you, you lose the will to help quite quickly

Or you take a very different approach to matters when dealing with them!

Drone - you are quite right and i have seen and experienced first hand both sides of the 'coin' - where Council employees are treated with disdain (very unacceptable) and where 'difficult people such as me) are considered to be a form of life deserving only of being ignored. Mutual respect goes a long way to oiling the 'moving parts' of bureacracy.  My own experience of most officers (at all levels) is that they are supportive despite being hamstrung by policy and protocol and if approached properly will offer a positive response

As for the Trust - I admire Daniel's zest and energy in all things MI.  He has a very difficult task to achieve the objectives he has set himself, especially as he has to win over a sceptical public, hostile politicians and an ambivalent executive.  What the trust can't do is simply engage in conversation on the basis that it's their way or the highway. 

 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on June 22, 2011, 06:58:48 PM
Quote
Lets get one thing straight. The building will not and can not be pulled down or moved so it serves little purpose to debate this as an option.


Daniel - how can you possibly make such a statement and worse present it as 'fact'.

The reality is that as you or the Trust don't own the building you have zero influence over what happens to the structure. The proof of that can be seen in the absolute fact that 'things' have been done to the structure for which your approval has not been sought and for which yuor consent has not been requested.

The debate on the future of the Mechanics has been ongoing for 26 years and one option is to demolish it brick by brick and rebuild a reproduction somewhere else - that is a perfectly feasible option and to dismiss it out of hand is quite wrong.

There is one thing that we can say for sure - the interior is not salvagable never mind restorable, which leads me to the conclusion that any future work undertaken to make the MI habitable and usable will be a work of 'reproduction' and not one of 'restoration'.  Incidentally there is nothing wrong with 'reproduction' especially when the primary purpose of the exercise is to show what something looked like and what it was used for as opposed to what materials and methods of construction were used in a bygone era.

Des I say it because I do not think it is feasible. I have dealt at length with heritage professionals regarding the Mechanics' and work in the sector myself and it is not considered even as a discussion point as the intrinsic historic value of the building is the context in which it sits. To remove it from it's location is to rip the heart from the Railway Village, the proposed world heritage status and miss the very opportunity that the building can play in regeneration of the area and linking the town centre together.

My view is that the interior historic fabric is not all past restoration however a full conservation survey and proposal has not been undertaken yet. In any case all statutory stakeholders would have very strong views on both the conservation approach, interpretation strategy and end use.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: 20Eyes on June 22, 2011, 07:28:08 PM
Des I say it because I do not think it is feasible. I have dealt at length with heritage professionals regarding the Mechanics' and work in the sector myself and it is not considered even as a discussion point as the intrinsic historic value of the building is the context in which it sits.

So, it's about context rather than the building itself? Interesting. Why oppose the hotel plans then?  :-\

Des made a valid point, your post did lean towards presenting opinion and your own wishes as if they constituted an established fact.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on June 22, 2011, 08:01:14 PM
Daniel, what are you going to do if the Council choose to exclude you (The Mecahanics Trust) from the process just like they did over Crossroads?

I hope you have a plan B, but rest assured that provided you get businesslike the Swindon Community will fall in and help both financially and actively. 

What arrangements have you made to fund raise amongst your membership?  You will need to display credibility in order to be in the driving seat or I fear you will be ignored by any potential owner.  and

then all that work, it doesn't bare thinking about   :'(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 22, 2011, 08:02:51 PM
Daniel, yet again the trust lets itself down. "a full conservation survey has not yet been undertaken"

How on earth can anyone take the trust seriously.

The Council will not recover any money from Forward estates, but they will not get their hands on the building without a fight with HSBC. A fight they will not in all probability win.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on June 22, 2011, 08:24:48 PM
Daniel, yet again the trust lets itself down. "a full conservation survey has not yet been undertaken"

How on earth can anyone take the trust seriously.

The Council will not recover any money from Forward estates, but they will not get their hands on the building without a fight with HSBC. A fight they will not in all probability win.

Get me access to the building and a conservation survey can be undertaken.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on June 22, 2011, 08:39:39 PM
Daniel, what are you going to do if the Council choose to exclude you (The Mecahanics Trust) from the process just like they did over Crossroads?

I hope you have a plan B, but rest assured that provided you get businesslike the Swindon Community will fall in and help both financially and actively. 

What arrangements have you made to fund raise amongst your membership?  You will need to display credibility in order to be in the driving seat or I fear you will be ignored by any potential owner.  and

then all that work, it doesn't bare thinking about   :'(

Richard fair comments. As I've said all along the Council are the biggest blocker to progress and that's why I put so much emphasis on building and maintaining relationships and support from key national stakeholders, funding bodies, skilled individuals in the sector etc. Also the Trust has always had good understanding and support from the MP including Robert now who has been great to work with. Its been interesting to note how much things have changed over the last 2 years - now the council's behaviour and approach particulary toward the Trust is not at all the representative of wider stakeholders. The perception of the Trust has been consistently improving while SBC's has been declining and now seems rather isolated.

Fundraising is a matter of timing and communication - right time, with the right message. We are potentially approaching that point and the Trust has several key individuals helping us with our fundraising strategy. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ringer on June 23, 2011, 08:28:58 AM
Its been said that the inside of the building is now in very poor condition and little of the original interior remains. If it is to be saved what percentage of the building will be saved ie interior and what of the exterior. The question I suppose I am asking is what is there to save, is it worth it and do the people of Swindon who now have £1.2 million sunk into it want it saved or dare I say it....... pulled down?

As the council is now in firmly in the driving deciding seat one wonders when will the council get around to asking that question?  :fish:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on June 23, 2011, 09:05:30 AM
Quote
I am asking is what is there to save, is it worth it and do the people of Swindon who now have £1.2 million sunk into it want it saved or dare I say it....... pulled down?

Do the people of swindon care what happens to the MI?  The assumption is that they do care - but such an assumption is based on 'gut feelings' and the belief that every resident/tax payer is cognisant with the railway history of Swindon and understands the heritage import of what the MI was and what it did.

Even Daniel admits the MI is 'only' a contextual reference point within the wider Railway Village which wishes to be recognised as a world heritage site. I accept the presence of the MI within the Railway Village can be part of a view from the road in any plan to develop a link between the town centre and the outlet village including Steam.

The interior of the MI is so delapidated that 'restoration' is in my view not feasible. Incidentally the work carried out on Windsor Castle after the fire was an example of renovation and reproduction NOT restoration. The finished article is a testament to the skills of current craftsmen using present day techniques and materials. I subscribe to the view that any work carried out on the Mechanics should see it end up as a modern day building (internally) fit for purpose to be used as a centre of learning allied to the history of Swindon and the GWR but also available to be hired out for functions etc
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ringer on June 23, 2011, 09:27:30 AM
Des

Well said  Hampton Court was restored in the during the 1980s using money from the Manpower commission people were given jobs to do the work and it became a great skills base and place for learning. Money well spent perhaps Garry Perkins can set up a similar scheme for unemployed young people in Swindon?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: itspavagain on June 23, 2011, 10:52:36 AM
As the council is now in firmly in the driving deciding seat one wonders when will the council get around to asking that question?  :fish:
The council have always been in the deciding seat - as they have been the ones who have continually blocked planning permission for the re-development of the MI.

I hold the council and the Mechanics Trust 50/50 responsible for the whole debacle and the continuing eyesore (and potentially soon to be taxpayer funded multi-million pound blackhole) that is the current Mechanics Institute.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on June 23, 2011, 11:47:44 AM
As the council is now in firmly in the driving deciding seat one wonders when will the council get around to asking that question?  :fish:
The council have always been in the deciding seat - as they have been the ones who have continually blocked planning permission for the re-development of the MI.

I hold the council and the Mechanics Trust 50/50 responsible for the whole debacle and the continuing eyesore (and potentially soon to be taxpayer funded multi-million pound blackhole) that is the current Mechanics Institute.

I'm inclined to agree.

Trouble is though, were/are TBC/SBC a problem because of the people opposed to anything that doesn't meet with their vision? 

I'm pretty sure there was forerunner of the Trust that opposed the hotel plans in the 80's, which the council also opposed, with planning only being granted at appeal. I recall some requirements being made regarding parking that helped ensure nothing came of the plans.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 23, 2011, 12:52:34 PM
Richard fair comments. As I've said all along the Council are the biggest blocker to progress and that's why I put so much emphasis on building and maintaining relationships and support from key national stakeholders, funding bodies, skilled individuals in the sector etc. Also the Trust has always had good understanding and support from the MP including Robert now who has been great to work with. Its been interesting to note how much things have changed over the last 2 years - now the council's behaviour and approach particulary toward the Trust is not at all the representative of wider stakeholders. The perception of the Trust has been consistently improving while SBC's has been declining and now seems rather isolated.

Fair enough, but the next step relies upon the council taking ownership of the building and handing it over to the Trust, which requires a substantial outlay from the council (and its tax payers). The council arew, in many ways, a bit sh*t but are having to deal with a nightmarish budget blackhole. While local people generally want the Mechanics sorted, how many would want it saved at the expensde of another key service?

I don't belive the entire council is opposed to the Trust or the building, or working with the community. However, there is so much political baggage on both sides that it's a situation that a lot of sane officers avoid like the plague.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 23, 2011, 01:07:32 PM
The only way the council can take over the building would be to pay off HSBC. According to Forefront's latest accounts they have borrowings of £1.1million.

Write off the money spent on urgent works, that makes the cost to the taxpayer in excess of £2.3 million and they hand it over to a penniless trust.

Makes a lot of sense - not!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ringer on June 23, 2011, 05:17:13 PM
The only way the council can take over the building would be to pay off HSBC. According to Forefront's latest accounts they have borrowings of £1.1million.

Write off the money spent on urgent works, that makes the cost to the taxpayer in excess of £2.3 million and they hand it over to a penniless trust.

Makes a lot of sense - not!

Do you know in Swindon that may actually make a lot of  sense to some people  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 23, 2011, 06:22:26 PM
Whilst we are cutting care budgets? A great deal of sense - to a fool
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Bogomil on June 23, 2011, 07:02:07 PM
The only way the council can take over the building would be to pay off HSBC. According to Forefront's latest accounts they have borrowings of £1.1million.

Write off the money spent on urgent works, that makes the cost to the taxpayer in excess of £2.3 million and they hand it over to a penniless trust.

Makes a lot of sense - not!

Do you know in Swindon that may actually make a lot of  sense to some people  :-\

Unless the bank give SBC first credit call on the Mechanics that is….

Not as unrealistic as some might think.
HSBC will surely do a financial risk assessment and given that there’s little chance that they’ll get their £1.1million would need to look at the future financial risk of owning the MI which as a listed building could cost them millions more.

Righting off the debt (which in banking terms is not a great deal) and letting SBC take ownership might well be judged by HSBC as the more fiscally responsible policy.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 23, 2011, 07:05:01 PM
On second thoughts Ringer, if you believe the people of Swindon really want that, lets have a referendum.

Approx 80,000 households in Swindon, £125 one year increase in Council tax - would raise £10 million. Enough to buy the building and for the trust to turn it into something for the community.

That IMHO is the only way the Council can get involved in these tough times, we can't possibly think about taking money from any other budget whilst we are sacking Council workers.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 23, 2011, 07:08:28 PM
Grant you Bogomil that's a possibility, but that still leaves the Council £1.2 mill out of pocket and owning a shell.
How many staff will have to be sacked to pay for that? Are you going to tell them?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Ringer on June 23, 2011, 11:24:12 PM
The bank can just become the second charge on the property as SBC has surely now upped the value of it by it's action and by placing the prime charge against the property. Therefore has SBC not done the bank a favour or am I being simplistic? I ask as SBC is a council and has far more capacity for liabilities making the banks charge more secure?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on June 24, 2011, 12:04:03 AM
SBC can't yet place a charge on the property. They need a judgement against Forefront first.
The banks charge will take priority.

It is true the bank could relinquish their charge. In reality why should they. The property is still worth more than the value of the charge if it is developed - either by the trust or by a private developer.

Forefront appear to be ruling themselves out of the picture. The statutory appeal against the council's bill for repairs is appeal to the Secretary of State - they obviously haven't done this hence the Council's high Court action.

That being said, most councils avoid serving S54 notices as they fear not being able to recover the costs.

An aggressive developer would get planning permission for a development similar to Singh's last application. Were the bank to sell for enough to cover their cost, the council would not be able to block this, and will lose out completely.

My experience, as an accountant, of banks in these circumstances is that they are prepared to be pretty aggressive if they think there is a prospect of any recovery, they will write off monies if they judge there is none.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: itspavagain on June 24, 2011, 10:02:05 AM
On second thoughts Ringer, if you believe the people of Swindon really want that, lets have a referendum.

Approx 80,000 households in Swindon, £125 one year increase in Council tax - would raise £10 million. Enough to buy the building and for the trust to turn it into something for the community.

That IMHO is the only way the Council can get involved in these tough times, we can't possibly think about taking money from any other budget whilst we are sacking Council workers.
Now about we have a referendum and all those who vote "yes" can share the £10m cost between them and those of us who vote "no" don't have to pay anything?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on June 24, 2011, 10:55:08 AM
Until a judgement is made against Forefront, is it appropriate for the council to be engaging in these sorts of discussions openly? It's a bit prejudicial if you ask me.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on June 27, 2011, 10:47:05 PM
Des

Well said  Hampton Court was restored in the during the 1980s using money from the Manpower commission people were given jobs to do the work and it became a great skills base and place for learning. Money well spent perhaps Garry Perkins can set up a similar scheme for unemployed young people in Swindon?

Isn't this a bit too innovative for Swindon Ringer? 

Even if it would be a help to those youngsters.

Far too Socialist for this administration surely?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 09, 2011, 12:01:31 PM
Daniel, yet again the trust lets itself down. "a full conservation survey has not yet been undertaken"

How on earth can anyone take the trust seriously.

The Council will not recover any money from Forward estates, but they will not get their hands on the building without a fight with HSBC. A fight they will not in all probability win.

Get me access to the building and a conservation survey can be undertaken.

Have you actually asked the Council for access to do your Conservation Study, Daniel?

They would have to be extremely inconsiderate and perverse to deny you and for that matter us, their bankers!!

and furthermore they need to know what they are up against don't they?

or do they have Another Agenda, we haven't thought of?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 10, 2011, 09:45:01 AM
"or do they have Another Agenda, we haven't thought of?"

Interesting question Richard.
Their is a "Community Fair" at The Parade, 17th July 11:00am to 4:00pm.
Same time as Mechanics' Children's Fete?
Pure coincidence or deliberate distraction?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 11, 2011, 01:28:48 PM
Daniel, yet again the trust lets itself down. "a full conservation survey has not yet been undertaken"

How on earth can anyone take the trust seriously.

The Council will not recover any money from Forward estates, but they will not get their hands on the building without a fight with HSBC. A fight they will not in all probability win.

Get me access to the building and a conservation survey can be undertaken.

Have you actually asked the Council for access to do your Conservation Study, Daniel?

They would have to be extremely inconsiderate and perverse to deny you and for that matter us, their bankers!!

and furthermore they need to know what they are up against don't they?

or do they have Another Agenda, we haven't thought of?

A formal request to the Council has not been made since the finalisation of the urgent works and the Trust is consulting with conservation and other colleagues about the next steps now. However following a recent positive meeting brought together by Robert Buckland MP and myself there was a common desire between the stakeholders (who have all had a lack of access on-site) in the room to arrange access and this is being followed up.

As for "another agenda" as you suggest, I don't know.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mart on July 11, 2011, 07:06:57 PM
Common desire of stakeholders is a phrase that gives me goosebumps of fear, dunno why, p'raps I'm a cynical Luddite Philistine with an aversion to overtly weird language.

I reckon a wrecking ball and £130k of alpines is looking increasingly likely solution.

There's never been a worse time to be decrepit for people or buildings.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Bogomil on July 11, 2011, 08:01:49 PM
Or maybe there’s a plan B on the councils agenda

https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5 (https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5)

Pages 28/29

 :wink:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 11, 2011, 10:36:06 PM
Or maybe there’s a plan B on the councils agenda

https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5 (https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5)

Pages 28/29

 :wink:

Is the Princes Regeneration Trust one of your stakeholders Daniel?

and if not what guarantees have you received that you will not be ignored?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Chav on July 11, 2011, 11:05:08 PM
Until a judgement is made against Forefront, is it appropriate for the council to be engaging in these sorts of discussions openly? It's a bit prejudicial if you ask me.
Mmm what with the wifi and all that inn it!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on July 12, 2011, 06:31:35 AM
Until a judgement is made against Forefront, is it appropriate for the council to be engaging in these sorts of discussions openly? It's a bit prejudicial if you ask me.
Mmm what with the wifi and all that inn it!

Maybe it's a special offer? Bail out Wi-Fi and get the Mechanics for free...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on July 12, 2011, 09:17:52 AM
Or maybe there’s a plan B on the councils agenda

https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5 (https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5)

Pages 28/29

 :wink:

Is the Princes Regeneration Trust one of your stakeholders Daniel?

and if not what guarantees have you received that you will not be ignored?

Well my gut feeling is they haven't been told they will be ignored, so are assuming they will be listened to.  :-\

A question has just popped into my head - does the MI Trust know the difference between feasible and viable?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: poemogram on July 12, 2011, 11:13:56 AM
Lovin' it Richard  : "what guarantees have you received that you will not be ignored"

one of life's big questions we might all well ask
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 12, 2011, 11:55:10 AM
Or maybe there’s a plan B on the councils agenda

https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5 (https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5)

Pages 28/29

 :wink:

Is the Princes Regeneration Trust one of your stakeholders Daniel?

and if not what guarantees have you received that you will not be ignored?

Couple of answers:
The Princes Regeneration Trust (PRT) were not part of the meeting I mentioned specifically.
I have met with the Princes Regeneration Trust some time ago regarding the work they were undertaking (the meeting was fairly positive and we shared some common ground). I've asked SBC several times for a copy of the report produced but it has not been forthcoming. I set out my feelings about the role of the PRT at Scrutiny (my notes from that evening are available via a link posted previously).

Guarantees from SBC are hard to come by at the best of times and in my experience are worth little when you do get them. We just have to continue pushing on and building good relationships with the other stakeholders involved to force greater influence. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 12, 2011, 11:56:48 AM
Or maybe there’s a plan B on the councils agenda

https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5 (https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4996&T=10&J=5)

Pages 28/29

 :wink:

Is the Princes Regeneration Trust one of your stakeholders Daniel?

and if not what guarantees have you received that you will not be ignored?

Well my gut feeling is they haven't been told they will be ignored, so are assuming they will be listened to.  :-\

A question has just popped into my head - does the MI Trust know the difference between feasible and viable?

Yes the Trust does understand the difference.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 13, 2011, 12:27:29 AM
"or do they have Another Agenda, we haven't thought of?"

Interesting question Richard.
Their is a "Community Fair" at The Parade, 17th July 11:00am to 4:00pm.
Same time as Mechanics' Children's Fete?
Pure coincidence or deliberate distraction?

Last year I was a member of the Committee organising the Children's Fete but resigned immediately afterwards because of the roller coaster way in which we had conducted our business.  This was something I was in no position to influence or change.  One month beforehand we were still glibly proceeding with arrangements with absolutely no money to pay for them and one week before the event had not done any of the health and safety assessment requirements and the council were, legitimately, refusing to allow us to proceed with it.  Had Councillor Bob Wright not come forward to help at the eleventh hour it would have been cancelled.

I have been completely unaware that it was even going to take place this year and so was a Councillor with whom I discussed it today.  Although I resigned from the committee I still offered help on the day but as I had no knowledge of it am now otherwise committed.  Also there is absolutely no evidence of any promotion whatsoever and raises the question as to how the Trust could actually handle £25m worth of restoration if it cannot promote a simple fete?

On this basis is it understandable that the Council do not take the Trust seriously?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on July 13, 2011, 06:26:09 AM
Is it definitely on the 17th, as the Trust's website doesn't give a date... It was the 17th last year... is it going ahead at all?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 13, 2011, 08:28:41 AM
This was sent to a list of supporters this week and another due to follow to those remaining (Richard I would imagine you are on that list).

Richard I don't think your comments are fair or reflect the whole picture and chucking such comments around hardly helps. I don't want to have a debate about it as I think there are bigger, more important issues which I'm sure you would agree.

Dear supporter,

The historic Children's Fete that takes place in the GWR Park and organised by The Mechanics’ Institution Trust will not take place this year.

It is with a heavy heart that the Trust has decided not to run the Fete in 2011. This is due to the demanding nature of other work we are undertaking and the serious illness of several key organisers involved.

As you may be aware we are balancing a range of different priorities, including the issues surrounding the Institution building itself, and want to be careful not to spread ourselves too thin at this crucial stage.

The Trust is planning to make the Children’s Fete in 2012 the best one to date.

I would like to thank you for expressing an interest this year and I hope you can join us for 2012.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on July 13, 2011, 08:34:02 AM
"Also there is absolutely no evidence of any promotion whatsoever and raises the question as to how the Trust could actually handle £25m worth of restoration if it cannot promote a simple fete?

On this basis is it understandable that the Council do not take the Trust seriously?"

You hit the nail firmly on the head there Richard.

Whilst no-one doubts the sincerity of the trust's aims, NO-ONE can take them seriously.
The best thing the trust can do for Swindon is disband.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 13, 2011, 09:36:06 AM
Whilst no-one doubts the sincerity of the trust's aims, NO-ONE can take them seriously.

I agree entirely, but in not pursuing the Fete the Trust has lost yet another fund raising opportunity and furthermore it will be difficult to interest anybody next year.  It is very easy to turn the tap off but difficult to turn it on again.  Surely they have sufficient resources to organise one, but then who else walked away like me and please accept Daniel that despite my frustration I stayed on until after the event had taken place and I worked at it.

Sadly, the only conclusion that can be deduced from this is that whatever happens now will not include the Trust other than in an advisory capacity and then if they become a pain even that will be denied them.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 13, 2011, 12:52:53 PM
Richard.
If Daniel lets you play with his football can you make up as friends again?

I also helped on the committee and the running of the fete.
Yes it was a bumpy ride and yes many thanks to Bob Wright.

However I am able to see beyond personal differences for the good of the towns' heritage and community.

I will be offering my services again in 2012
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 13, 2011, 02:38:48 PM
Not sure if there is a separate discussion re:Housing Options Appraisal but the Trust will be putting these questions forward to Cabinet tonight (Item 6) specifically regarding the Railway Village. http://db.tt/V8tzVKn (http://db.tt/V8tzVKn)

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 13, 2011, 02:40:57 PM
Richard.
If Daniel lets you play with his football can you make up as friends again?

I also helped on the committee and the running of the fete.
Yes it was a bumpy ride and yes many thanks to Bob Wright.

However I am able to see beyond personal differences for the good of the towns' heritage and community.

I will be offering my services again in 2012

J if you look at your minutes of the Committee Meeting on May 18th 2010, one for which you offered apologies, the following quote from them may be extremely relevant.

'This meeting was all about the funding and how we stand at the present time with regards to funds.
Views were expressed by both John, Jennylee and Richard that if we failed to have this event this year that it would probably die and never be resurrected again!.

If it was true then it is true now, unfortunately, ask John Pile.  He said if his ride people were put off it would be impossible to them back again.

Also I may have differences of opinion with Daniel and the way in which the Trust does business but that is in no way personal.  However, if it were a case of saving the Mechanics or losing friendships I know which choice I wouild make.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 13, 2011, 03:34:47 PM
This is not the first year that the Trust has felt unable to deliver the Fete, we also did this in 2009 due to the upheaval caused by the issues surrounding the Community Crossroads. It is very regrettable but I believe the best option given the circumstances.

As for funding - we have always run the Fete on tight funds and are grateful to local grants, business and individual support. Last year was fully funded and actually delivered a small profit back to the Trust after the event, although generating a profit is not in any way the core objective of the activity.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 13, 2011, 04:06:51 PM
As for funding - we have always run the Fete on tight funds and are grateful to local grants, business and individual support. Last year was fully funded and actually delivered a small profit back to the Trust after the event, although generating a profit is not in any way the core objective of the activity.

I am pleased to learn now that our efforts last year produced a profit, something of which I was unaware.

However it was late May 2010 and Sean Haines who secured funding from the W G Little fund.  Sadly Sean left the Council shortly afterwards.

With it we secured a vastly reduced event, cancelling the evening entertainment, but so good was our Public Relations people turned up for it and were more than somewhat displeased.

I hope you have learnt from these experiences?

Good luck tonight, I hope there are no unpleasant surprises for you.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 13, 2011, 07:16:10 PM
I thought the last fete went very well.
We had some friends visiting from a fair distance. They loved it.
Most of the visitors were "passing trade" quite happy to hang around for the next event.

Let's sincerely hope there are no unpleasant surprises.

Anyone else got a ball?  :spin:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 15, 2011, 10:11:11 AM
Let's sincerely hope there are no unpleasant surprises.

Does anyone know what was discussed or are people beyond caring?

The Trust needs to report or did their publicity person forget to go?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 15, 2011, 12:52:24 PM
Oh don't be so bossy or they'll never let you play  ::)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 15, 2011, 02:48:25 PM
Oh don't be so bossy or they'll never let you play  ::)

J playing may be what the Trust do, I'm only interested in doing something that will get what we want out of this pig's ear of a situation. 

We need ACTION and LEADERSHIP from the Trust not just WORDS.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 15, 2011, 04:16:44 PM
Richard I don't think these snipes are very helpful - a simple "how did things go would?" would suffice.

The Trust has a very busy schedule of administration, projects and meetings and continuously updating this forum I'm afraid isn't the top priority. That coupled with the fact that the meeting was rather a non-event doesn't make for interesting reading! The presentation of the item by Cllr Mattock was interesting and useful given the complexity of the larger housing issues although personally I'm still left with more questions than answers.

Also the comments put forward by Cllr Wright were well thought through and seemed to gain genuine sympathy from Cllr Bluh. In general though the item felt low key, quick and fairly depressed - I was expecting a greater turn out and debate but perhaps that will be saved for Full Council.

In terms of the questions I made specifically about the Railway Village the written answers I received were not clear and my follow-up questions failed to get an actual answer from Cllr Perkins either but at least its on the record. Even in my experience of going to a lot of Council meetings over the years it was very unsatisfactory.

The Trust is planning to follow up with officers and Lead Members outside of the public meeting to gain some further understanding and answers.

I can provide the written answers if you wish but they will be available with the official minutes too.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on July 15, 2011, 05:41:25 PM
Not sure if there is a separate discussion re:Housing Options Appraisal but the Trust will be putting these questions forward to Cabinet tonight (Item 6) specifically regarding the Railway Village. [url]http://db.tt/V8tzVKn[/url] ([url]http://db.tt/V8tzVKn[/url])


£80,000 for 'railway village consultancy'? Qu'est que c'est?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on July 15, 2011, 05:48:04 PM
That is a good question and one that I didn't get a clear answer for. The answer to my question was simply:

"The arrangement for tendering work will be in line with the Council's financial regulations and contract standing orders. Paragraph 3.13 of the report sets out the objectives with regard to the railway village to which the figure relates". Helpful.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Drone on July 15, 2011, 05:56:05 PM
Hmmm... and yet we're saving £20,000 elsewhere in the borough by walking around in the dark...

Quote
The consultation on future housing options extends an opportunity to
explore wider improvements to the Railway Village area. Preliminary
work has been undertaken by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust initially
looking at the Mechanics Institute as an integral part of the area. Whilst
acknowledging that it is in private ownership and that a solution for the
building currently resides with the owner.

Clear as mud!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 15, 2011, 11:57:55 PM
Hmmm... and yet we're saving £20,000 elsewhere in the borough by walking around in the dark...

Quote
The consultation on future housing options extends an opportunity to
explore wider improvements to the Railway Village area. Preliminary
work has been undertaken by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust initially
looking at the Mechanics Institute as an integral part of the area. Whilst
acknowledging that it is in private ownership and that a solution for the
building currently resides with the owner.

Clear as mud!

and could mean something else entirely.

Words words and more b words.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Got Signal on December 08, 2011, 07:16:56 PM
Princes Trust now enters the Mechanics Tory Debacle and is not welcomed by the Trust
Quote
“I think it’s an uninspiring proposal. I don’t think it’s been very well thought through .There’s no sense of other proposals or options on the table.
 
“It’s completely ignored all of the long-standing work and research and business plan the Mechanics Trust has already done.
 
“And, importantly, I don’t think it comes close to delivering the potential that a restored Mechanics Insti-tution could bring to the town’s regeneration. I’m not supportive and I don’t really see the evidence to justify such a scheme.”
 


When will  Tory's stop splashing Swindon council tax payers dosh just exactly how much is it that Rodders has Bluh away on this vanity legacy prodject?

Quote
It has sent an invoice to Mr Singh’s firm, Forefront Estates Ltd, demanding £393,271.16 in repair costs to stop the building from being a public danger.
 
It does not include the £850,000 which has been spent on ‘urgent works’, to halt further decline.
 

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9410426.Mechanics_trust_hits_out_at_retirement_idea/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9410426.Mechanics_trust_hits_out_at_retirement_idea/)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on December 08, 2011, 07:51:02 PM
No problem at all with it being turned into a retirement 'village'. 

If it upsets any of the people who didn't want the building turned into a hotel 20 years ago and caused the building to be the mess it is now then it'll make me positively ecstatic.

Unlike the mechanics trust the Prince's Regeneration Trust http://princes-regeneration.org/ (http://princes-regeneration.org/) seem to know what they're doing. Which is probably why they've ignored what the mechanics trust have done, a good start in my book :clap:. 

Frankly I'd like Dan Rose to shove his and the trust's "vision" where the sun doesn't shine and let people who know what they're doing sort the problem out.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on December 08, 2011, 08:04:12 PM
I'll second that Gorgon.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on December 09, 2011, 08:29:28 AM
Charming! I'm about to rush out to a meeting so won't waste time dealing with such a comment.

The Mechanics' Institution Trust was asked to give its view at the Economic, Environmental and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee last week (this is the committee that Scrutiny passed the original item on the Mechanics' to and in turn set up a Mechanics' Advisory Group to report back and give recomendations to Cabinet).

This link will take you to the notes of the evidence and view that I gave on behalf of the Trust to the committee last week. http://db.tt/7UBr5srZ (http://db.tt/7UBr5srZ)

In general I was pleased with the committee meeting and the Chair (and other Members) was helpful, professional and genuinely keen to hear from the Trust before, during and after the meeting.

2 main recommendations from the meeting (which was amended from the Advisory Group's original report document):
1) That the committee "note" the Princes Trust report rather than "welcome" or "support".
2) That the Mechanics' Institution Trust be given the opportunity to present their plans and proposals in the same way that the Princes Trust has.

It seems quite clear to me that the general view of many Members is the same as mine - that this scheme falls a long way short of the potential opportunity, it lacks an evidence base and is pretty uninspiring.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Got Signal on December 09, 2011, 09:12:55 AM
Daniel
Thanks for posting the link and for making the point  members do not welcome it or support it either, but note it  :popcorn:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on December 09, 2011, 03:02:43 PM
Daniel

The time has come to leave the field. The Mechanics Trust if it continues is nothing but a nuisance.
If you lot keep bleating the building will still be a crumbling eyesore when my grandchildren reach my age.

Whilst no one doubts your enthusiasm and integrity, i'm sorry but pack your toys away and leave it to the big boys.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on December 09, 2011, 04:01:03 PM
Sadly, I have to echo that sentiment. In fact, anyone I know of across the whole of the town seems to feel the same way.

30 years to come up with a utopian solution is long enough. If funding (let alone sustainable funding!) cannot be found in that time scale, it certainly won't be found in the next 20 years, as the building decays even further, repair costs escalate and the economic situation worsens.

Its time for compromise. If the trust can't or won't accept that, its time for them to withdraw from the picture, as they no longer have the support of the vast majority of people in the town and certainly not the council, the very body they are likely to have to work most closely with: They've tried hard, done their best, failed and must now recognise that. I'd much sooner see them work with a realistic project and help work on a solution which preserves as much of the building as possible from its otherwise inevitable destruction.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on December 09, 2011, 07:29:28 PM
What the big boys can do:

Eastbrook Hall, formerly the Methodist Cathedral of the North, was opened in 1904 but was empty since the 1980s and a major fire in 1996 left it derelict, burnt out and roofless.

The completed redevelopment of Eastbrook Hall includes 73 apartments arranged around a central courtyard with parking at the lower level. There are retail and commercial spaces opening onto Leeds Road. The stunning Grade II listed facades have been restored with minimal alterations to allow for the new use

http://princes-regeneration.org/projects-england.php?id=19 (http://princes-regeneration.org/projects-england.php?id=19)

If you really care about the building rather than some "vision" let the experts take over.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on December 19, 2011, 05:37:23 PM
Erudite and totally clear. According to the Chief Executive, SBC carried out works in accord with Sect. 54 of the Listed Buildings Act 1990. All conditions were met in respect of the grant offer from English Heritage as stated by the CE who states quite clearly in a letter to EH that he believes SBC complied with the requirements as laid down by EH.

English Heritage on the other hand are quite clear that SBC failed to fulfil the requirements  of the grant offer. 

Such was the concern as to the 'Council's reputation' that Mr Jones felt constrained to challenge EH.  And yet ......................when push comes to shove

Quote
Question. Is it the case that EH will be pursued for payment of the monies expended on work on the Mechanics Institute including the costs of any legal action?”

Response: No

So what we have is yet another blissful example of SBC committing to works which it believed were covered by a 2002 grant offer, and then lo and behold it discovers that the £200,000 isn't going to be made available.

Now, either the money was due under the terms of the grant offer or someone in the Council has made an almighty 'horlicks' and has cost the council tax payer £200,000.

Mr Jones is quite adamant that "The Council considers the actions it has taken have been in accord with the grant offer and therefore cannot accept the basis set out for withdrawing the grant" and yet.......................

The Council will not be pursuing EH for the money owed, which the Council has spent.  So in truth the Council's repuation is stained and it actually  'can accept the basis for withdrawing the grant' and all the fine words from Mr Jones were frankly quite irrelevant.

Just another £200,000 spent like water - how different from the High Court action being taken against the owner of the MI.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on December 19, 2011, 07:45:32 PM
Just another £200,000 spent like water - how different from the High Court action being taken against the owner of the MI.

I believe the case is due to be heard in January and then we will see if it is in fact a further act of folly!!

With a £10m surplus turning into a £100m deficit in a matter of a few years I suggest these acts border on the criminally incompetent.

and please do not forget the £400,000 vibrant and innovative loan to our friends in Digital City ably and competently overseen by the Deputy Leader of the Council on Garry Perkins who I believe has had something to do with this debacle as well?

Will someone please help save Swindon from these unaccountable baffoons?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 08, 2012, 10:09:21 AM
Is this due to be heard in the High Court next Friday the 13th?

Can anyone confirm this date or has it been settled on the quiet?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on January 08, 2012, 10:40:29 AM
According to adver it starts on 16th Jan
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 17, 2012, 12:23:05 AM
I've recently been coerced into launching a Flickr site.

I've included aerial photos of The Mechanics'

http://www.flickr.com/photos/73970391@N03/sets/72157628899437941/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/73970391@N03/sets/72157628899437941/)

Enjoy  :)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Got Signal on January 17, 2012, 11:26:56 AM
ICDT

That is a cool photo  :hippy: I think Des Morgan has produced another thought provoking letter from the adver.
Quote
Why’s all the focus on Mechanics Institute?

The Council’s looming court battle with the owner of the Mechanics Institute, in which they seek to recover £400,000 of costs associated with the works undertaken on the building, place into stark relief the somewhat inconsistent behaviour of the council (Adver, January 7).
 
With regard to the alleged essential works, it is quite difficult to conclude that the condition of the Mechanics was any worse than it was 12 months prior to the supposed need to ‘act with haste’. Indeed the report relied upon by SBC wasn’t a new report but one which was already in existence, and which had previously referred to the issues which suddenly became urgent.
 
Of greater concern should be the decision of the council not to pursue English Heritage for the £200,000 they had agreed to pay for works undertaken. There is correspondence in the public domain which makes it quite clear that the council considers it has acted properly and in line with stated English Heritage requirements and as such is entitled to the agreed grant, and yet officers of the council advise they will not be pursuing court action to recover the £200,000.
 
Of course, no letter from me would be complete if I didn’t refer to the Wi-Fi saga and I will not disappoint the many Swindon residents who continue to be exercised by this issue.
 
Digital City UK Limited owes the council taxpayer the sum of £400,000, plus interest of 3.5 per cent, and costs associated with the project. There was a legal default clause written into the loan agreement which, if invoked, would place the company into the hands of an independent administrator. The council in the person of a cabinet member has decided to not invoke the clause giving a number of spurious reasons for not doing so. The one not mentioned is the likelihood that an administrator might ask some very searching questions of the directors of Digital City, which they would not be able to avoid in the manner they do when asked by impertinent members of the public, like me.
 
What makes the owner of the Mechanics Institute a legitimate target for court action but sees English Heritage, and the directors of Digital City, immune from action to recover over £600,000?
 
Des Morgan Caraway Drive Swindon
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 17, 2012, 05:09:50 PM
"That is a cool photo   I think Des Morgan has produced another thought provoking letter from the adver."

Thanks.
Which one are you referring to?

Hopefully there was more than one photo.

I hope the tower block image explains why decay isn't the worse that can happen to the building
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 25, 2012, 03:56:14 AM
Does anyone know how the case against  Mr Singh went?

Did SBC lose again.. who pays costs?

Can't see how SBC can claim the repairs were urgent when they were basing the costs on 200k promised for urgent repairs in 2002.
Waiting 9 years isn't exactly urgent is it?

I still think Mr S could be made to sell it for nothing.. 
He has 1.2m in loans.. the bank holding those two charges could easily call in the loans.. especially if they could then lend more to who ever took over the building.
they must be nervous with SBC's spending money on the building and incuring huge 'urgent repair' bills.
They might want to cut losses , cash in on loan insurance and renew
their stake with a fresh loan.

I think SBC and EH are the wrong way to get the building.. people should talk to the bank holding the charges.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Monkey Boy on January 25, 2012, 10:51:33 AM

I think SBC and EH are the wrong way to get the building.. people should talk to the bank holding the charges.

Do you really think they want the building?  I would imagine they're blooming terrified that they are going to end up with it as it then becomes their problem to deal with and they'll have to actually do something with it!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 25, 2012, 11:36:35 AM
Neither SBC, EH or the bank want the building.
That's the point.
You give the bank a reason to call in the loans so they recoup their loss via insurance and can off load/sell it to someone (you) who takes out a loan with them.
Then the new owner (you) has no outstanding debt.s will have input some new new money (say 50k) and opens up a new avenue to solve the problem with the building. 
Also the bank will still have a new charge on the building for a new loan for development but with better security like a house etc.
It is the new loan that will tempt the bank.  A chance to get another fish on their hook.

What do you think the banks position is, if SBC win the court case and demand money be repaid?
Then Forefront goes bust and the loans default.   
Bank will then have to repo the building and try to sell it. 
SBC wouldn't be able to transfer ForeFront's debt to the bank.
Do you think SBC will want to buy the MI?  Nope.
So it goes to another investor (probably another friend of Mr S and the previous owner ;-)
.. and the whole sorry saga begins again.
If NMIPT had bothered to raise any funds, now would be the time for them to make a bid for the MI with the bank once ForeFront goes bust.
But NMIPT aren't ready even after a decade to raise any funds. Never will be in my opinion. :-(

Of course that will only happen if SBC win the case!
If SBC lose, the bank will still be nervous and if a 'hopeful' new owner  offered them funds and wanted a new loan for future developments.
that might make them pull the rug from under Mr S & co.
(what is missing is any new 'hopeful' owner )

The bank would end up with two defunct loans they can recoup via insurance and get  a new loan with a new charge on the building and a new smaller loan from a new investor with some capital.
SBC's 'bills/charges' would melt away into history just like SBC's legal bills when the previous owner 'won' the hotel planning permission 20? yrs ago.
SBC's only option would be to compulsary purchase the building and if they do that, then the charges on the building become worthless and the bank will just have a big loss to write off.

I am very interested in how the case has gone..
.. anyone know?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 25, 2012, 12:54:48 PM
SBC have wasted huge amounts of money on far lesser things.
The picture in this set (the one with DMJ building) demonstrates how the Meechanics' (arcade stalls) and the adjacent tunnel pose a link to the Outlet Village.

http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/73970391@N03/sets/72157628899437941/ (http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/73970391@N03/sets/72157628899437941/)

This, along with illustration of Swindons' history  would give both the Outlet Village and the town centre a more wholesome shopping/trading experience.
As one of the comments reads, the MI should be as much part of Swindons' future as it is the root of its' history.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 26, 2012, 07:33:55 PM
I suppose, given that Swindons tenants have overwhelmingly rejected Cllr Holland & Co's attempt to flog their homes to the (now defunct) Swindon Housing Association, none of the £40 million (nett)'windfall' SBC would have gained from the transfer is in danger of being siphoned off to sweeten a deal with The Princes Trust any interested parties to take the Railway Village* and Mechanics Institute (subject to a court ruling SBC take possession) off SBC's collective hands.

*It's my understanding that if Swindon tenants had voted to transfer ownership of their homes to Swindon Housing Association, homes within the Railway Village were not included in the deal.

Has another dream and yet another stab at legacy politics gone predictably wrong for Rod?

I reckon, had tenants voted yes to transfer, the SBC administration would be salivating at the thought of getting their hands on the mechanics. Now, as Monkey Boy says, they're crapping themselves at the thought.....
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 31, 2012, 04:56:47 PM
Any news on the court case?

Could it be costing us a fortune?

If it were favourable it would be all over the Adver wouldn't it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 31, 2012, 05:13:31 PM
 :spin:

My thoughts exactly.   You'd think the Pravdatiser would be all over a SBC win.

Shame really as a defeat for SBC will mean another fine mess...and nothing happening.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 31, 2012, 06:53:12 PM
As it was reported that Matthew Singh didn't turn up I suppose the result will be academic, although if the judge awards SBC the money, Coun Perkins will claim a victory (of sorts)

I am still waiting the release of the Wi-Fi accounts - promised within 'weeks' by Coun Perkins in September 2011. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 31, 2012, 07:33:58 PM
I am still waiting the release of the Wi-Fi accounts - promised within 'weeks' by Coun Perkins in September 2011.

I thought you had given up on that one Des?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 31, 2012, 08:02:11 PM
I thought you had given up on that one Des?

"Never give up, never surrender!"   [Galaxy Quest]
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 31, 2012, 08:15:50 PM
Quote
I thought you had given up on that one Des?

Oh Richard - you think me so fickle?  I will pursue Coun Perkins to the bitter end over his inglorious part in this debacle.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 31, 2012, 09:23:43 PM
Quote
I thought you had given up on that one Des?

Oh Richard - you think me so fickle?  I will pursue Coun Perkins to the bitter end over his inglorious part in this debacle.

I am relieved to hear it Des, me too!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on February 09, 2012, 01:42:59 AM
Go Des, go Des, go Des, go!

 :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

I have to applaud your public spirit - what a shame and inditement  of the local political opposition that all of this pressure to hold these people to account is coming from private individuals
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 09, 2012, 02:15:23 AM
So no one knows what the result of the court case was?

Do you think it is safe to assume SBC lost?
Surely it would have reached the papers if they had won.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on February 09, 2012, 08:26:05 AM
Quote
Do you think it is safe to assume SBC lost?

Never safe to assume anything - these cases are heard by a 'Master' another name for a Judge but traditonal for this type of court.  The decsion will be a written one and will be delivered in due time.

Will SBC win - I think they will based on the Law but with one caveat. I think SBC undertook more work than they were legally entitled to perform, I also think they failed to make any serious attempt to 'contact' Mr Singh and finally as is frequent with anything in which Coun Perkins is involved in - HYPERBOLE ruled
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on February 09, 2012, 09:17:53 AM
Quote
Do you think it is safe to assume SBC lost?

Never safe to assume anything - these cases are heard by a 'Master' another name for a Judge but traditonal for this type of court.  The decsion will be a written one and will be delivered in due time.

Will SBC win - I think they will based on the Law but with one caveat. I think SBC undertook more work than they were legally entitled to perform, I also think they failed to make any serious attempt to 'contact' Mr Singh and finally as is frequent with anything in which Coun Perkins is involved in - HYPERBOLE ruled

Didn't EH say (in the report the SBC tried to hush-up) that the repairs may have made things worse?  Could that help the case of Mr Singh?

As you say another problem could be they way SBC just ploughs ahead with anything it wants to do. A visit here by a lawyer would identify the sorts of places they should dig in order to weaken SBC's case.

Just another thought, if this work cost £400,000 shouldn't it have gone out to tender?  If so did SBC follow the procedures correctly?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on February 09, 2012, 12:20:49 PM
I've just telephoned the Court (020 7947 6022 - Calaim no HT-11-165).

Whilst they were unable to give me any official details they did say that they cn't see a judgement has been made.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Bassettina on February 09, 2012, 05:09:22 PM
Quote
Do you think it is safe to assume SBC lost?

Never safe to assume anything - these cases are heard by a 'Master' another name for a Judge but traditonal for this type of court.  The decsion will be a written one and will be delivered in due time.

Will SBC win - I think they will based on the Law but with one caveat. I think SBC undertook more work than they were legally entitled to perform, I also think they failed to make any serious attempt to 'contact' Mr Singh and finally as is frequent with anything in which Coun Perkins is involved in - HYPERBOLE ruled

Didn't EH say (in the report the SBC tried to hush-up) that the repairs may have made things worse?  Could that help the case of Mr Singh?

As you say another problem could be they way SBC just ploughs ahead with anything it wants to do. A visit here by a lawyer would identify the sorts of places they should dig in order to weaken SBC's case.

Just another thought, if this work cost £400,000 shouldn't it have gone out to tender?  If so did SBC follow the procedures correctly?

Tenders are required on any work above £50,000 in value, I think.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on February 14, 2012, 01:04:41 PM
SBC have won the court case against Forefront Estates of £331,242 plus interest and legal costs in relation to the Dangerous Works carried out under the Building Act.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 14, 2012, 05:44:09 PM
So will SBC take ownership using compulsary powers?

If so does the NMIPT have any funds to show SBC that they could do better than Mr Singh?

SBC have had an unpaid debt on the Mechanics of around £15k for just as many years from when the fence was put up around the building. 
It was never paid.
A lion with no teeth/claws isn't much more than a big pussycat.

If the building changes ownership again how will SBC be able to get any money?
The building is owned by a ltd company so Mr Singh isn't responsible for the debt himself.
Just like Triky Ricki isn't responible for the £400k irresponsibly lent to the now defunct DigitalCity Ltd.

If SBC really are worried about the building they have to take ownership if just to pass it to a more responsible owner.

I seriously doubt SBC will see any of the money awarded.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on February 15, 2012, 08:12:23 AM
SBC have won the court case against Forefront Estates of £331,242 plus interest and legal costs in relation to the Dangerous Works carried out under the Building Act.

So Daniel where does that take us from here?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Daniel Rose on February 15, 2012, 10:38:54 AM
I'm waiting for some official legal advice and context, which I will share but in the meantime...

The Council undertook Dangerous Works under Section 78 of the Building Act 1984 and have subsequently had the action vindicated by the court following the owners challenge. 
The owner will have a period of time to pay the Council, if he fails to do so the Council (as I understand it at this stage) will have 2 choices: 1) Negotiate with the owner to reclaim the funds or the transfer of the building (in-lieu of payment for example)
2) Forced Sale. Where there is a debt to the Council, created as a result of the Council undertaking works in default, as in this case, the Council can use the Power of Sale, to recover the debt. In order to do this the Council would need to register the debt as a first charge with the Land Registry (which would take precedence over a mortgage - in this case with HSBC). Once registered, the Council can then ask for the debt to be paid in full.  Where the Owner fails to pay the debt, the Council can enforce the sale of the property, just like a mortgagor in possession.

I believe that there is a timescale attached to Forced Sale but I'm waiting on legal advice.

There is also the matter of the Urgent Works (carried out under section 54 of the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act) of roughly £650k which the Council could also pursue if necessary. 

By whatever approach (as I have said all along) it is very reasonable to expect the ownership of the building to move to the Council. The Trust will continue to promote that the Council should enter into a Back-to-Back deal with the Trust (as a registered Building Preservation Trust) in order to avoid long term public ownership and cost. This is standard practice and is given as strong guidance to local authorities in situations like this involving listed buildings.

Clearly there is not an overnight solution or roadmap in place in place and all stakeholders need to come together. SBC must not work in isolation...the drawbridge must come down in order to ensure the best possible opportunity is gained from this situation for Swindon and the building.

The Trust's well publicised view aside we must not rush to a final conclusion. We all need to come together, establish the clear facts, funding, and review the work and evidence already on the table (such as the Trust's Listed Building Consent, Feasibility Studies, Plans etc). The positive is that the building is secure and safe from further deterioration due to the Works undertaken and therefore we have time to get this right following the conclusion of the legal issues and the ownership.

I will update if/when I get further clarification on the situation.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on April 08, 2012, 07:57:05 PM
SBC have won the court case against Forefront Estates of £331,242 plus interest and legal costs in relation to the Dangerous Works carried out under the Building Act.

So Daniel where does that take us from here?

What's happening?

Have we got our money or possession and ownership of the building in lieu of the debt?

Garry Perkins is very quiet!

I see that the building is still festooned with scaffolding and as it is not owned by SCS how much per month is that little lot costing us?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 09, 2012, 10:41:39 AM


What's happening?

Have we got our money or possession and ownership of the building in lieu of the debt?

Garry Perkins is very quiet!


I reckon Dan answered that, as far as is practical, in his last posting.

Waiting for legal advice and relevant parties to have a head grilling session.

We all know we'll wait a long time for Mr Perkins to "communicate"

Funding issues aside, I sincerely hope the trusts' illustrated designs will be considered (regardless of who eventually owns the building)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on April 09, 2012, 12:17:59 PM
Funding issues aside, I sincerely hope the trusts' illustrated designs will be considered (regardless of who eventually owns the building)

Agreed, but don't you regard as being interesting that nothing is being said or apparently done on this subject whilst Digital City Accounts are being prepared and the Ownership of Pickards Fields is being transferred in haste?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: itspavagain on April 09, 2012, 12:21:27 PM
Whatever the outcome, it's clear that it will end up costing the taxpayer a shit load of money.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on April 09, 2012, 12:39:27 PM
Quote
Whatever the outcome, it's clear that it will end up costing the taxpayer a shit load of money.

That's always been a concern of mine.... But consider the word 'cost'.

It costs us in terms of the negative perception of the town - something that's probably measured in hundreds of thousands of pound accruing every time a potential investor in the town notices it.

It will cost us eventually to resolve the issue one way or the other.

And this question of 'cost' potentially comes at a time when the council will willingly gamble what its supporters describe as 'unimportant and small' figure - such as half a mil for an undelivered wi-fi system as part of a project 'managed' by a now bankrupt businessman.

Its a 'cost' which ought also to be seen in the light of land being GIVEN AWAY to a developer at Gorse Hill. What would the commercial value of the land have been on the open market?

As to the give-aways of Swindon's heritage in the form of green space (Croft, Gorse Hill, Coate, Whichelstowe), what a shame they weren't linked to the preservation of another part of it.

The unelected Forward Swindon costs the taxpayer too. But even their recent survey concluded that more effort needed to be put into preserving our character buildings for the economic benefit of us all.

Its time the people with access to the purse strings manned up a little.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on April 10, 2012, 02:29:29 AM
Simple answer is nothing is going on....
Nada..
Zilch..
..Same procedure as Every Year!!!

Mounmead never paid the bill for the fence! Any monies SBC spend trying to collect any, will just end in a Limited company going bust..  so nobody ends up owning the MI.

The bank with the 2 X £100k charges won't enforce them. It will write it off as loss and recover it on their insurance..
SBC will not want to own the MI as then EH can do the same to SBC as they did to Mr Singh and enforce repairs.

Ideally, NMIPT would have already collected some money and they could offer the bank or SBC to take over the building.  But that is never going to happen.

We can only hope an interested party sees this as a chance to aquire the MI or part of it via the bank holding the charges.
Of course the Airport Tower/Flying stage doesn't have a charge on it.

If someone got just the Reading Hall & South Extention, I sure they could be made usable with not too much work.  An offer of 50% of the charge ~£50k might be of interest to the bank.
Think that's what Beeny paid for her Hall.
It would make a cool HQ for one of the Railway Engineering companies.
Now that NetworkRail aren't in 125 House they don't all have to be situated close to 125.
They pay a hell of a lot in rent for those offices.

Maybe a Wedding Hall?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 23, 2012, 10:39:14 PM
It seems that some people care about historic buildings.
Any chance that SBC / Forward Swindon might join them in a sympathetic, non commercial, pro heritage mode?

http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/9661382.Have_your_say_on_bid_to_protect_Great_Western_Railway_s_history/ (http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/9661382.Have_your_say_on_bid_to_protect_Great_Western_Railway_s_history/)

"In response to this major project, English Heritage, with the support from Network Rail, is consulting on the histories and descriptions of 50 buildings and structures which have been identified, as deserving closer attention.

These include bridges and other structures in or around Maidenhead, Reading, Oxford, Newbury, Bath and Bristol."


Anyone see the bit about Swindon in the article?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on May 23, 2012, 06:54:30 AM


What's happening?

Have we got our money or possession and ownership of the building in lieu of the debt?

Garry Perkins is very quiet!


Anyone heard anything since SBC 'won' the court case about £350k being owed them by Forefront ltd?
weren't they supposed to claim even more?

Anyone got any info on what if anything has been done?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on May 23, 2012, 07:26:51 AM



What's happening?

Have we got our money or possession and ownership of the building in lieu of the debt?

Garry Perkins is very quiet!


Actualy Richard quoted that  :wink:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on May 23, 2012, 10:39:17 AM
Yes I did ICDT but what the hell is going on?

Karsten is it time for one of your FOI's?

Funny how it did not come up in the elections as another indiscriminate use of public money.

Mind you there is so much the Labour Party were spoilt for choice!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on May 23, 2012, 02:17:53 PM
Oops. 
Must have chopped out too much in editing..

I don't do FOIs... I did do one regarding Residents Parking in 2009 and it is like trying to get blood from a stone.

I had better success back in 2006, just talking to someone on phone and asking him to email me data.


I think SBC will try to forget the £350k and sweep it under the carpet as 'unrecoverable' debt.
The court case was probably to make sure 4Front can't sue SBC for damages as it determined the works were valid 'Urgent Repairs'.

I do not see anything happening this year.. how do you think that temporary roof will fare over the next few years?

Perhaps interest in the MI might happen if the Swindon Uni project actually happens.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on May 23, 2012, 05:29:13 PM
I am happy to give some details with regard to the latest position on the MI.

The Adjudicator of HM Land Registry was notified of the judgement and the Council succeeded in obtaining a direction to the Chief Land Registrar to give effect to the Council’s application for registration of a statutory charge with priority over the charge in favour of HSBC Bank Plc.  The application was completed by HM Land Registry on 10 April 2012. This is quite an interesting outcome as it suggests that the SBC charge has overtaken the HSBC charge

To secure the monies due in respect of the legal costs, the Council applied to the Technology & Construction Court for a charging order on The Mechanics Institute.  The interim order was granted on 22 March 2012 and the charge was registered at HM Land Registry on 2 April 2012.

Accordingly, all monies due to the Council in respect of the costs and expenses for undertaking the emergency works, and the legal costs for bringing the civil action in the Technology & Construction Court are now secured by way of charges registered at HM Land Registry.

If the property is to be sold, the Council will be notified and the debts will be paid out of the sale proceeds. This is another interesting point, although it must be said it is a little bit of a 'red herring' as the prospect of a sale of the MI which woul realise £2 million plus is not something may people would envisage as occurring in the short or medium term. The debt will therefore continue to rise, assuming SBC are charging interest on the balance owed

The Council is now considering what, if any, further steps may be taken to secure the earlier payment of those monies. Read into this what you will. It is difficult to imagine a situation where any monies will be forthcoming and remember the issue of the balance of over £800k has not yet been dealt with by the Court and is therefore still, a debt owed but not secured against a charge on the building

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on May 23, 2012, 08:52:36 PM
Hmm
HSBC has 2 charges one on the South extension and one on the original North Part.   Nothing on the Fly tower bit.

Does the SBC charge cover the whole building or just the bit the urgent repairs were for?  I.e. the original North part?

As it is only a charge if the building was sold for say 50k  SBC would then have no one to pay the rest?
They could deny such a sale but would then be forced to offer to take over the building.

4Front is after all a limited company just like Digital City..

If SBC really wanted the issue sorted they should have started CPO proceedings by now.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on July 16, 2012, 11:30:16 AM
an article in the adver today,(very low content today), says that the council is to embark on a refurbishment of the outside of the MI, at a cost of £7 - £10 million pounds, is this tax payers money or do they have a grant from someone?..
Title: Mechanics' firm to be struck off.
Post by: George Elliot on July 18, 2012, 12:08:17 AM
Will the council lose  money it is owed if the company is struck off? Will SBC request that Companies House do not strike off as SBC tax payers are owed money? Can anyone who understands company law give a quick answer?

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9821596.Mechanics____firm_to_be_struck_off/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9821596.Mechanics____firm_to_be_struck_off/)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Outoftowner on July 18, 2012, 09:21:15 AM
The above article is interesting in that Cllr Garry Perkins seems to be well aware of what happens to Companies that are struck off for not filing documents with Companies House. He also knows that their assets go to the Crown.

Strangely he cannot apply this knowledge to the accounts of Digital City (UK), a company of which he is a Director and which owes SBC £450,000. Very soon the ownership of the assets of Digital City (UK), which amount to a few wireless transmitter / receivers mounted on street lights and valued by TS members as junk, could soon pass to Her Majesty The Queen rather than the new broadband partner of SBC.

Will that come as a surprise to Cllr Perkins? Will it also let SBC's new broadband partner off of the pretence that the technology of this junk is compatible with theirs?

(As an aside: Has the £5,000 that SBC spent on compiling [nearly said constructing - whoops] the Digital City (UK) accounts gone missing, along with the original £450,000, as these accounts have still not yet appeared at Companies House!)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 18, 2012, 10:46:43 AM
Well Outoftowner you have beaten me to it when:

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9821596.Mechanics____firm_to_be_struck_off/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9821596.Mechanics____firm_to_be_struck_off/)

Coun Garry Perkins , cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “It doesn’t surprise me that Mr Singh looks as though he’s taking the least line of resistance, allowing the company to fold up around him.

“Companies House would have given him warnings before they moved to strike off, so you would have expected some action if he wanted to maintain it.”

Coun Perkins said the situation was in the hands of the council’s legal team, and one of his hopes was the building would not further deteriorate, regardless of who ends up owning it.

He said: “At the end of the day, somebody is going to end up with the ownership of the building, and whoever that is, we will want to work with them to make sure the Mechanics’ is maintained and hopefully to ensure the building is renovated and back in workable use.”

Now isn't that an interesting situation!!

As for the money what guarantee does the council have they will get any more of a brass penny from their spend on the Mechanics than they did for their so called Entrepreneurial investment in Digital City (Uk) Ltd?  After all if the 'strike off' is not challenged how can they have any influence over the situation?

Incidentally Garry exactly when do you intend to publish the accounts for DC, the accounts you publicly promised would be made available to the people of Swindon to justify that outrageous loan of £400,000 of public money to a private limited company?  Or is this more a case of Mr Singh following your example of your own action or should I say inaction as a Director of Digital City (UK) Ltd?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 18, 2012, 11:13:46 AM
Mechanics' Childrens Fete is on Saturday.  O0
Hope it doesn't rain
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 18, 2012, 04:13:22 PM
Mechanics' Childrens Fete is on Saturday.  O0
Hope it doesn't rain

Is it really? 

As you know I was involved two years ago and adequate publicity was sadly lacking.

I hope the Committee have learnt their lesson and that you have an enjoyable show!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on July 18, 2012, 06:02:10 PM
Yes it's definitely on.

I haven't been able to get around Swindon much lately, but as far as I'm aware publicity is a bit thin.

I shall be there again though, doing my little bit as I believe it's a tradition that should be looked after  O0
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on July 18, 2012, 10:24:32 PM
as far as I'm aware publicity is a bit thin.

Disappointing to say the least and no wonder the Mechanics has such a low profile and begs the question, are the Trust the right people to take this very important and iconic part of our heritage forward?

Nevertheless, I still wish you well.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on July 19, 2012, 10:45:36 PM
Quote
Incidentally Garry exactly when do you intend to publish the accounts for DC, the accounts you publicly promised would be made available to the people of Swindon


Quite candidily if Garry Perkins told me it was Friday tomorrow (it is Thursday today) I would still check my diary.

If according to Mr Perkins - Mr Singh is taking the 'line of least resistance' - it really does beg the question what is he doing prevaricating over the DC accounts.

Strange waffle about 'who is going to get the assets in Highworth' and  'what is going to happen with the company' is pie in the sky stuff.

The accounts in question are the 2010 accounts covering the trading period October 2009 - October 2010.

The tardiness of Mr perkins knows no bounds and is typified by the fact that the next planned board meeting is not until September.  Just how difficult is it to get 2 directors together?

Clearly Mr Perkins does not consider the issue of the Digital City fiasco to be of any import.

It was September 2011 that Mr perkins promised the people of Swindon the accounts would be published within weeks - is he really a modern day Pinocchio?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on July 20, 2012, 12:05:17 AM
Quote
Incidentally Garry exactly when do you intend to publish the accounts for DC, the accounts you publicly promised would be made available to the people of Swindon



The accounts in question are the 2010 accounts covering the trading period October 2009 - October 2010.

The tardiness of Mr perkins knows no bounds and is typified by the fact that the next planned board meeting is not until September.  Just how difficult is it to get 2 directors together



That's typical Pekins b****cks. There is no reason why the accounts cannot be formally approved by a simple phone meeting.

[quote  is he really a modern day Pinocchio?

That Des is far too polite a description.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on July 20, 2012, 07:30:24 AM
Wonder if publicity hold up is due to an office move at the same time. I certainly know it's on, it's been in the adver a couple fof times and in one of the spreads over the past two weeks.
Title: Some Good News for a change
Post by: I Could Do That on July 21, 2012, 06:12:58 PM
We've just cleared up our dance floor and p.a equipment from
The Mechanics' / Childrens' Fete.

It's all gone extremely well.
Finally getting a full day of sunshine, people came in droves.

We shared our floor and equipment with Swindon Fencing Club.

We've only left because we're seeing a band elsewhere, but the rest of the evening show in Faringdon Road Park is still to go followed by the firework display.  :clap:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on July 21, 2012, 07:18:44 PM
Thats the way to do it ICDT!   :coolsmiley: :banana:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on August 28, 2012, 10:42:03 AM
I guess SBC aren't going to bother objecting to the winding-up of forefront estates before the deadline or if they are they've kept unusually quiet about it. http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9895912.Mechanics____firm_deadline/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9895912.Mechanics____firm_deadline/)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on August 28, 2012, 06:22:54 PM
So who owns the building?

If ForeFront don't exist, does that mean the building is owned by the state?
Would that mean English Heritage will take over?

Anyone know what process now applies?
What happens to the charges by the bank and by SBC?
Null invoid or still apply? Apply to who tho?

Surely the £1.2 m SBC spent is lost.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on August 28, 2012, 08:01:44 PM
The assets of the Company pass to the Crown.

A search I did this evening shows only 3 Charges registered, all by HSBC, 2 over the building and a floating charge over any assets of the Company.

This could play out both ways - HSBC's charges are in essence worthless. that could clear the way for the building to be taken over by EH or some form of Charitable Trust/SBC.

There are several more cards to be played before we are any the wiser I'm afraid.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on August 28, 2012, 10:59:52 PM
This was the last advcie gievn to me by the Borough Solicitor in May 2012

Quote
The Council has secured judgement in this matter.   Subsequently, the Adjudicator of HM Land Registry was notified of the judgement and the Council succeeded in obtaining a direction to the Chief Land Registrar to give effect to the Council’s application for registration of a statutory charge with priority over the charge in favour of HSBC Bank Plc.  The application was completed by HM Land Registry on 10 April 2012.

To secure the monies due in respect of the legal costs, the Council applied to the Technology & Construction Court for a charging order on The Mechanics Institute.  The interim order was granted on 22 March 2012 and the charge was registered at HM Land Registry on 2 April 2012.
Accordingly, all monies due to the Council in respect of the costs and expenses for undertaking the emergency works, and the legal costs for bringing the civil action in the Technology & Construction Court are now secured by way of charges registered at HM Land Registry.  If the property is to be sold, the Council will be notified and the debts will be paid out of the sale proceeds.

The Council is now considering what, if any, further steps may be taken to secure the earlier payment of those monies.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on August 29, 2012, 02:29:12 AM
"if the property is to be sold".

So the council would have to protest it being transferred to the state.  Unlikely.

Wonder if  HSBC could be made to sell it for say?
£1
and then write it off and claim their insurance.
Would SBC go after the £1?   Probably as they are malicious bunch of @@@@s  :angel: :police:

Now is there anyone out there that really wants to take on such a challenge?
I think I could raise 10-15k if there was.
The south part would make two (maybe 3 with attic) nice large warehouse flats in the west wing and I think the Preschool would love to move into the east Wing.. with maybe a permanent Swindon Art College student Art Work gallery in the Reading room.  Possibly a display/drop off for freecycle?

The North end could be offered as training site for the Princes restoration trust or just left for EH or SBC.
The HSBC charges have split the property into 3 bits.


Hmm must remember to take my meds..

 :spin:
Title: Mechanics Institute 50 year millstone around necks
Post by: Mickraker on April 09, 2013, 07:34:17 PM
Councillor warns of 50 year millstone around necks  :-\
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10343186.Council_wants_Lottery_cash_to_work_on_Mechanics__Institute/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10343186.Council_wants_Lottery_cash_to_work_on_Mechanics__Institute/)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 09, 2013, 10:07:47 PM
Swindon Advertiser
Quote
SWINDON Council intends to bid for up to £5m of Lottery cash to help restore the Mechanics’ Institute – as the bank HSBC cuts its losses from the last attempt to bring the iconic building back into use.

The council plans to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for money to renovate the entire exterior, plus some of the external fabric, of the listed building in the heart of Swindon’s Railway Village.

But before the bid is submitted, the council needs to establish a sustainable use or uses of the building which do not need an ongoing public subsidy, and has asked the Mechanics’ Institution Trust to undertake business and feasibility studies on the group’s plans to turn it into a community and cultural hub.


Meanwhile, Swindon Council has revealed that HSBC has decided to withdraw its charge on the building, which related to an estimated £250,000 it loaned to Forefront Estates, headed by businessman Mathew Singh, for a failed project to develop the Mechanics’.

This leaves Swindon Council as the sole charge-holder due to the £300,000-plus the authority spent on emergency repairs to the property, which following the dissolution of Forefront estates is technically owned by the Crown but looks likely to pass into council hands.


Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “We need to have a business case on uses that are being put forward.

“We cannot have a millstone around council taxpayers’ necks for the next 50 years. We need to find a use for that building and that’s what we’re working towards.

“The [HSBC situation] makes it easier when things move forward.

“ At the moment it’s in the hands of the Crown and we have no indication where they’re moving to with the building at the moment. They have it on their books and that’s where it is. We have this period at the moment to get sorting out the use while it’s not in our hands.”

Daniel Rose, the chairman of the Mechanics Institution Trust, said he was fairly confident the general direction and broad vision of the group was viable, adding it was the only plan which had secured listed building consent for the whole site. He said he was working with Swindon Council to secure funds for theviability studies.

An HSBC spokesman said: “What I can say in general terms is that after looking at the bigger picture on liabilities that are owed to us, and charges that we have, on rare occasions a decision may be made to relinquish a charge on a property.

“If another party has a primary charge on the property, removing ourselves from the process enables future plans to be agreed and taken forward in a less complicated manner, providing a greater chance of a positive outcome.”

Amazing that after all these years they've finally considered lottery funds and the speciality of the building.

I hope that something more imaginative than flats is considered
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on April 10, 2013, 01:26:27 AM
SBC have already spent £1.2m on it and does it look any better after a roof collapse and a fire?

So what do you get  with £5m in the hands of ScS?

It's a grade II* building but I bet ScS would just do what ever they wanted, and ignore EH as they did during their 'Urgent Repairs'.

I think it would be better to just fund a professional to search out and contact possible developers like Faithful & Gould who have already developed other Mechanical Institutes and Heritage buildings.

The article says that HSBC has released its charge.. but the charge was with ForeFront ltd that doesn't exist.
It wouldn't stand anyway, not would SBC's.  And the building would probably be transferred not sold.




PS
Just who is the Crown?  EH?
Anyone know how to get in contact with anyone in regards current ownership?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 10, 2013, 07:34:02 AM
Who is the Crown I think under quaint old British law the Crown owns all the land in the country except for land granted a freehold or a lease if the freehold or lease ends it returns to the Crown.

Example if you die in testacy or Bona Vancantia you have to demonstrate to the Crown Tresury that you have claim to the land. If not after a given period of time the Crown keeps the estate. SBC will have to demonstrate it has a claim to the land.... simples that's why there are so many Lawyers earning a living from property transfers and Bona Vancantia  :-\
Title: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Outoftowner on April 10, 2013, 09:01:50 AM
OK Mick. "Bona Vacantia"?

Esperanto for have a nice holiday?

I'll get me coat.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 10, 2013, 10:32:04 AM
OT why get your coat have you a claim on the land and are rushing off to register it  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on April 10, 2013, 01:16:53 PM
Found out who will be the owner and if it has any liabilites. 
Googled Bona Vacatia and found this
http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/output/BVC7-Disclaiming-Property-vested-in-the-Crown-as-bona-vacantia.aspx (http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/output/BVC7-Disclaiming-Property-vested-in-the-Crown-as-bona-vacantia.aspx)

3. Bona vacantia property belongs to the Crown, and the Crown is not obliged to deal with it in any particular way. Normally it will be disclaimed (i.e. the Crown gives up its right to the property) or sold, and the proceeds of sale transferred to the Exchequer to deal with in the same way as money raised by general taxation.

4. It is only the assets of a company that pass to the Crown when it is dissolved. Its liabilities are extinguished, and the Crown accepts no liability for the property under the company's title or otherwise.


So SBC and HSBC charges are not worth the paper to print them out.
I wonder if the Treasury Solicitor will put the building up for sale again or consider it worth under £1000 and disclaim it?

That will leave it in limbo again for years and only a Compulsory Purchase order would help.
I.e either EH or SBC.

SBC might find that hard to do considering they have spent £1.2m making it safe.
The building has to be a danger to public to warrant a CP from a council.
 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 10, 2013, 01:49:41 PM
Interesting take on it Karsten but I bet you'll find a lot of lawyers that will give you a different view if you ....... Pay them for the advice  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on April 10, 2013, 02:58:38 PM
Spoken to EH, doesn't seem they have anything going with the MI.
In fact it has been re-classified as stabilized and is now class C down from class A.

For SBC to do a CP it must be 'owned'.
If the Treasury know about the building (they do now) and claim it. The Crown owns it.
Councils can't take over property from the Crown, all though they can issue Urgent Repair notices like they did to ForeFront ltd.
SBC will have to bid for it if it is put up for sale by the Treasury.

I am trying to find out if the Treasury has claimed it or if it will be disclaimed and left in Limbo.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 10, 2013, 03:08:18 PM
Are YOU hoping to own it one day?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 10, 2013, 04:15:32 PM
Owning it is nine tenths of the law the council does not own it and neither does anyone that is why it is owned by the Crown. Perhaps  its ownership could as easily be transferred to any other holder of property in Swindon with a government regeneration role  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on April 10, 2013, 10:37:11 PM
What is not going on is a 50 years millstone
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on April 11, 2013, 09:03:09 AM
Four words:

"Community Right to Buy"

Would be nice to see the right applied to something.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on April 11, 2013, 09:06:58 PM
I attended a heritage walk around the railway village a few years ago. The tour guide claimed to have been a former Quantity Surveyor at SBC and said that it would cost over £30 million to bring the building back into use.

If this figure is correct, I think it is unlikely that a viable community use will ever be found for the building. The future of the Mechanics probably lies in the hands of a private developer, providing that planners will allow them to find a profitable use for the building.

I can't see SBC funding a £30 million community centre.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 11, 2013, 11:29:41 PM
I wonder how the victorians managed to do it  :angel:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on April 12, 2013, 12:21:05 AM
Camden Market was derelict for years and is thriving and fully restored mainly by a slow private funded based regeneration.
http://www.mechanicsinstitute.co.uk/ (http://www.mechanicsinstitute.co.uk/)

Council people always double triple the estimated cost as they often overrun by 5-6 times their estimate.   Eg. The urgent repairs were 1.2m not 250k.
I bet an experienced contracting company would have done it a lot differently and not wasted money on that idiotic metal roof.
Instead of that patch, they would have repaired the roof properly replacing the rotting planks  and replacing the slates Mr Singh  seems to have 'lost'.

I bet 5m in the hands of a property company or even a proper building's trust would go a lot further than if it was given to ScS/SBC.

The MI took more than a decade to build, it's been mothballed so it can be slowly restored to a basic water tight and usable building.
It doesn't have to be one 'use' it could have multiple 'uses'/companies renting parts of it.

btw
Found an interesting report..
Mechanics Institute Advisory Group
Report to the Economic, Environmental and Sustainability Overview & Scrutiny Committee
http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=39924 (http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=39924)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 12, 2013, 06:57:11 AM
Quote
It doesn't have to be one 'use' it could have multiple 'uses'/companies renting parts of it

That's exactly what the trust have in their accepted plan
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 12, 2013, 07:54:48 AM
Twitter was popping out tweets about the council on pop up shops in Swindon could MI pop into a pop up shop :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on April 12, 2013, 09:53:00 AM
Twitter was popping out tweets about the council on pop up shops in Swindon could MI pop into a pop up shop :-\
I quite like that idea.
Public access and a link from town centre to outlet village
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on April 12, 2013, 11:14:02 AM
I quite like that idea. Public access and a link from town centre to outlet village

Yep there is an organisation @popupshops
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 06, 2013, 12:06:50 AM
Did email the Crowns solicitor but not had a reply if they have accepted or rejected the building.

It probably is neither and un owned.

what is the law regarding un owned buildings?

Anyone know?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on September 06, 2013, 01:16:55 PM
They can't reject the building.

The only thing they can do is transfer it to one of the creditors, which as HSBC released their charge would be SBC.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 06, 2013, 04:44:12 PM
Did email the Crowns solicitor but not had a reply if they have accepted or rejected the building.

It probably is neither and un owned.

what is the law regarding un owned buildings?

Anyone know?

Why?

Are you planning to own it ?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on September 06, 2013, 09:33:47 PM
Things still progressing. Expect a step programme to be presented to council based on achievable development. I would like to see something agreed for Swindon Works 175 celebration.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 07, 2013, 12:10:53 AM
They can't reject the building.

The only thing they can do is transfer it to one of the creditors, which as HSBC released their charge would be SBC.

If you read up on it you will find they can reject the uilding if they think it is worth less than £1000.

So yes I did make a £1000 bid about 6 months before Mathew Singh bought the building in 2002? The bid  was of course never accepted by the then owner.

I have also recently offered the Treasury £1000 for it.
If the Treasury accepts the building, it is without any charges being valid.. i.e. no debt.
If then then sell it on there is still no debt.

If property is accepted by TSOL(The Crown)  it is legally without any debt no matter if there was debt previously.  So neither the bank nor SBC will have a valid charge if it is accepted.

Someone needs to own it and I think if I did, I could get companies, charities and lots of other private /public bodies interested. 

No decision is worse that a bad decision.   I'm sure leaving the building in Limbo suits SBC but not the MI.

Apparently TSOL think ForeFront isn't  dissolved yet?
Wonder who is keeping it afloat?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 07, 2013, 12:17:40 AM
Things still progressing. Expect a step programme to be presented to council based on achievable development. I would like to see something agreed for Swindon Works 175 celebration.

Hi Bob,

Still?
Progressing?

Hmmm  :fish:

Sorry but think I'm suffering from deja view..
oh did anything get sorted about the WiFi..

Nah..  shame  didn't the last Labour MP bring that up in Houses of Parliament .. back in
err 2009/2010
Didn't she mention the Mechanics too  in the same year?

What do we have politicians for again?  Everything about the MI seems to be imminent  :angel: and tomorrow.
Problem is Tomorrow never comes.


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 07, 2013, 03:30:31 AM
In regards to the SBC charge...

did SBC ever get around to placing a charge on the building before ForeFront folded??

or were they as slow as when they should have placed a charge on tricky Ricky's 'scam' WiFiasko company :-) but just simply forgot to post it or another excuse like that.

If they didn't get the charge in on time, then there wouldn't even be a valid charge on the building.
Remember, the court award was against ForeFront who are no more and not the legal owners.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 07, 2013, 08:12:32 AM
In regards to the SBC charge...

did SBC ever get around to placing a charge on the building before ForeFront folded??........

Quote
If they didn't get the charge in on time, then there wouldn't even be a valid charge on the building.
Remember, the court award was against ForeFront who are no more and not the legal owners.

Are you sure?

What about
 Forefront Property Ltd Basepoint Business Centre, Rivermead Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7EX Registered in England & Wales no.6015221
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 07, 2013, 10:43:18 AM
Looking back over previous reports, is the basement still flooded.

I have equipment that would sort that out AND I'm willing to do it free of charge

Anyone know?

Who do I contact if it still needs sorting out?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Is It Still Flooded?
Post by: I Could Do That on September 07, 2013, 10:44:25 AM
Looking back over previous reports, is the basement still flooded?

I have equipment that would sort that out AND I'm willing to do it free of charge

Anyone know?

Who do I contact if it still needs sorting out?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on September 07, 2013, 11:01:41 AM
What about
 Forefront Property Ltd Basepoint Business Centre, Rivermead Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7EX Registered in England & Wales no.6015221

Forefront Property Ltd is an estate agency.

Matthew Singh's company was called Forefront Estates.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Is It Still Flooded?
Post by: I Could Do That on September 07, 2013, 12:50:32 PM
What about
 Forefront Property Ltd Basepoint Business Centre, Rivermead Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7EX Registered in England & Wales no.6015221

Forefront Property Ltd is an estate agency.

Matthew Singh's company was called Forefront Estates.

Yeah, only kidding.  :P

What about the flooding though. I'm still happy to sort that out
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Is It Still Flooded?
Post by: Karsten on September 08, 2013, 05:11:52 AM
What about
 Forefront Property Ltd Basepoint Business Centre, Rivermead Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7EX Registered in England & Wales no.6015221

Forefront Property Ltd is an estate agency.

Matthew Singh's company was called Forefront Estates.

Yeah, only kidding.  :P

What about the flooding though. I'm still happy to sort that out


I do not think ScS did anything to the basement so it would still be flooded.
The 2 old pumps that kept the water out failed in the 80's I was told and nothing  had been done when Matthew Singh took over.


It is ForeFront Estates and they are dissolved, I checked. 
I've sent TSOL all the links too.  They were unaware of this.

Will try to see if there is or is not a charge from SBC.
Doesn't really matter if it's gone to the crown (TSOL).

In the unlikely event TSOL do accept my offer of £1000, I could use all the help I could get.

Who knows what may happen, especially with SBC's record of getting things done on time.

I think TSOL might put it up for sale publicly.  Hopefiully SBC would then buy it... but I doubt it.

We will probably end up with a friend of Mr Singh and the prev owner buying it for few k.

and then the whole  thing rewinds and starts over...

of course they might not and accept my offer.   :banana: :spin: :thumb: :D :clap:

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 08, 2013, 09:51:24 AM
So you do want to own it then.

Anyway my offer to pump the water out for free still stands   :popcorn:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on September 08, 2013, 10:56:59 PM
Not sure whether the water is still in the basement. It contained some nasty's so it would not be a straightforward pumping job. The sealing of the roof should have made a difference.

I have sat in on a few Mechanics meetings and that is why I know things are progressing. This has included advice from external professionals who have been involved in this type of work and return of buildings back to use.

I have already responded on WiFi, my contribution was concluded in April.  Like you I would like the report to be aired.

If you think I am leading you astray on the matters please ignore my responses.

Your comments on Politicians are interesting as you did previously stand as a candidate so you must have some idea what they are for.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 10, 2013, 12:39:42 AM
Hi Bob,

Not getting at you personally but politicians always say Soon! "in the near future" etc...
I do believe you have mentioned "things are in the pipeline" most years.

I do stand in elections now and then.
Usually talking about Bollocktics etc. 
I'm not a believer in politics in the UK.
It doesn't work and is in my mind corrupt.
The expenses scandal, money for questions, peerages, etc  proved that.

That's why I stand now and then as a Bollocktian candidate, if I got in I'd spend most of my time looking to expose things e.g. How much the council makes on Residential Parking, personal connections with commercial companies.
etc.


There's is a fairy tale I keep reminding my daughter about. The boy Sheppard that cries wolf..
Describes UK politics and politician's promises quite well in my opinion.

Having the domain swindon org uk, I have seen numerous mis-sent  emails from swindon gov uk. 
Knowing how some deals are made,  makes me feel that Money talks lot louder than voters do in Swindon.


Anyway in case others are interested I found these googling.

The court case SBC v ForeFront Estates.
http://painsmith.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/swindon5.pdf (http://painsmith.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/swindon5.pdf)

Page on Bono Vacantia properties etc.
http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/output/BVC5-Sale-of-Vacant-Land-and-Buildings-vested-in-the-Crown-as-bona-vacantia.aspx (http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/output/BVC5-Sale-of-Vacant-Land-and-Buildings-vested-in-the-Crown-as-bona-vacantia.aspx)

Has anyone already got details of the ownership of the MI?
Or details of the charges made by the Bank? HSBC wasn't it?
Any one know who to contact in the bank?


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on September 10, 2013, 08:23:44 PM
Karsten - The MI is with the Crown and the bank I have been informed has relinquished the money owed.

I am not aware of any money made from Residents Parking etc although we are looking at ways to reduce costs. With local council tax held all legitimate sources are welcome and this is usually used within the field of work where income was been generated.

The pipeline I am referring to refers the meetings and progress being made. Remember we started from a position of negativity to one where we can see a way forward. This includes more realistic costings and advice from external professionals who have previously produced success elsewhere. I could be wasting my time however I don't think so based on what I have experienced. My commitment was to help find a solution and that is why I am involved. Time will tell if I have been a mug.

Your points on politics are understood and there have been enough cases of poor behaviour  for some people to form a negative view. If rotten eggs are found they need to be separated and kept away from the mix. If you set aside the Political differences I have met plenty of good people in the three main parties. I can not speak of UKIP or the Green's because I have not knowingly worked with any current representative within the council. In all walks of life there are good and bad people however in politics people expect better. I think that is right as long as people allow politicians to be human.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mart on September 11, 2013, 05:27:02 PM
I am not aware of any money made from Residents Parking etc although we are looking at ways to reduce costs.

If I recall correctly it works as follows.

Version 1: Residents Parking is creating no waves. Continue selling tickets to any residents for any amount of cars paying absolutely no regard to actual capacity. Vehemently insist it is cost negative.

This version prevailed in the 90's and early Noughties.

Version 2: Express surprise and astonishment that Version 1 has resulted in a huge amount of permits being issued for spaces that do not actually exist. Introduce new limits with risible periods of notice for their introduction, ramp up the prices of residents parking to ensure that the revenue stream keeps gurgling when the new limits take effect and turn the visitors permits into borderline useless and over specified pieces of paper. Vehemently insist that residents parking is costing SBC a bleedin fortune

Version 2a: Express continued surprise at Version 1's outcomes and express further surprise that on further investigation you find that every single traffic warden in the borough spends significant amounts of time walking to residents parking areas, that time is now chargeable to the area (and residents parking cost centre) they are walking to. Express further surprise that the wardens then spend an absolute bloody eternity
ensuring that they ticket every poor silly sod that has a worthless permit on their windsecreen previously sold to them by SBC and generally ensuring smooth ingress and egress and that the bloody eternity they spend is  now chargeable to the area (and residents parking cost centre) they have harvested ingress and egress smoothed. Express absolute incredulity at the enormous amount of time that the wardens have to spend walking back from the residents parking area to the part of town where business likes to do business. Apparently. Then charge that time to the residents parking scheme. Now insist that the residents parking scheme is a feckin disgrace, a burden to the rest of the town and in fact the residents are bloody lucky that SBC have been subsidising them for so much for so long.

I think that about covers it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 11, 2013, 06:24:56 PM
Quote
I think that about covers it.


Oh no it doesn't....

You forgot to include

When the residents have paid a fortune for the permits allow the system and wardens to antagonise the residents at every opportunity.

If the residents vehicles have snow, leaves, or frost protection covering the permit issue a fine.

Despite operating an SBC computer database which shows that the vehicles have a permit
Insist that the residents send in written pleas to be forgiven for the inclement weather.

Rub it in a bit by telling residents that you know they've paid a fortune for a permit because it says so on the monitor, but still insist that they send a written begging letter.

Insist that they write the letter soon and threaten that the penalty charge (for an offence that knowingly has not happened) will be increased.

If that doesn't worry or annoy the residents, threaten to send the bailiffs around (completely avoiding any court process)

Then tell the residents that the parking scheme is there for their benefit and convenience.

Send residents a letter advising them not to abuse the system again.

Send them a big bill for next years permit.

Allow religious groups to flout the system if they don't live in the area (even if there is a car park nearby) so that residents that have paid are unable to park anywhere near their homes.

Send those residents a reminder to pay for their next permit

Allow houses to be converted to multiple occupancies in order to increase the income strain on parking areas.

Extend yellow lines to increase the strain on the "system"

Tell residents how lucky they are that no money is made from the oh so helpful "system"


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Geoff Reid on September 11, 2013, 06:33:24 PM
Quote
I think that about covers it.


Oh no it doesn't....

You forgot to include

When the residents have paid a fortune for the permits allow the system and wardens to antagonise the residents at every opportunity.

If the residents vehicles have snow, leaves, or frost protection covering the permit issue a fine.

Despite operating an SBC computer database which shows that the vehicles have a permit
Insist that the resident makes a written plea to be forgiven for the inclement weather.

Rub it in a bit by telling residents that you know they've paid a fortune for a permit because it says so on the monitor, but still insist that they send a written begging letter.

Insist that they write the letter soon and threaten that the penalty charge (for an offence that knowingly has not happened) will be increased.

If that doesn't worry or annoy the residents, threaten to send the bailiffs around (completely avoiding any court process)

Then tell the resident that the parking scheme is there for their benefit and convenience.

Advise them not to abuse the system again.

Send them a big bill for next years permit.


Ooh!, ooh!....I remember that topic, it was November 2010 and called The 'Idiot Hole' & The Swindon Council Parking Enforcement Officer (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php/topic,6718.msg46767.html#msg46767)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mart on September 11, 2013, 08:13:26 PM
Ah, that's when a naive young chappie took his first tottering steps onto this here forum. Course that's before I found out it was a left wing pinko organisation run, somewhat confusingly, by a Nazi. Must be true, SBC said so.

I also remember being so hacked off that we put our house, Stafford St, up for sale. I was so peeved I even went to the meeting at SBC where I was going to be educated, calmed and reassured that all was well with residents parking and I was simply muddle headed.

I attended the meeting on the day we accepted the offer on our house, therefore when an apparent policy u-turn was performed I was heard to mutter 'bollocks'. I was a little bemused to hear that a policy that a few minutes previously was vibrant, visionary, permeable and very likely the envy of local authorities all over the planet was now cack and something else was required. With hindsight 'feckin bollocks' might have been more apt.

Then it became clear that the u-turn was pretty much verbal rather than actual and so my view of SBC was formed, a view that has remained constant in SBC's subsequent incarnations. I wouldn't trust them to empty feckin bins.

I don't live in a residents parking area any more
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 17, 2013, 07:04:47 PM
Update.

The TSOL are now aware of the MI building and that ForeFront Estates Ltd was dissolved.

The 2 HSBC charges have been de-registered and it seems the MI wasn't registered before Matthew Singh registered it as 2 separate plots.
I believe it was listed as under British Rails property and exempt from council tax, before Mr Singh registered it as two plots.

Plot 1 is the original MI and the Fly Tower (The North part), Plot 2 is the Reading Hall and the 1890's extensions  (The south part).

I suppose a logical split as there is just a door in the reading room leading to the Fly Tower,

Daft when you realise the oldest bit is lumped with the newest and ugly cheapest built bit.


So the building can be bought.  min. £1000 + costs (min £500 District Valuation + VAT).

Is there anyone out there interested?  ???

Would any people really be interested or is the story too old?  :wakeup:




Karsten

PS
ICDT
If I did get the both plots/the MI building, would your offer of helping to get the basement water free stand? 
The basement is huge, had a bowling alley in it. 
It had 2 or 3 large sump pumps. 
So when electricity was cut by the previous owner to Singh, the whole basement flooded. 
If I did get an offer accepted by TSOL, I'd be looking for volunteers help to get the building back to life slowly bit by bit.
The big problem is the one SBC created with the roof (Plot 1).
Plot 2 could be put to use with some careful thought.

If anyone is seriously interested, can you please contact me direct.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on September 17, 2013, 08:06:00 PM
So the building can be bought.  min. £1000 + costs (min £500 District Valuation + VAT).

Sounds over priced to me  ;D

Seriously though, are you considering buying it in your own name or on behalf of the Mechanics Trust? Matthew Singh owned it via Forefront Estates and was able to limit his liability when it went wrong. What if the council decides that it is unsafe and demands that you put it right at your expense. Will you protect your personal assets in some way?

I would be prepared to put in some hours to help 'get the building back to life', but given its history I wouldn't risk any of my hard earned cash on the project.

Be careful.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 18, 2013, 12:24:00 AM
For £1500?

I'll give that money to the Mechanics' Trust tomorrow if it is that simple.....

and yes the free offer of a lending a pump and generator still stands  :thumb:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on September 18, 2013, 03:07:43 AM
> on behalf of NMIPT???

Are you joking?
How much money have they raised as opposed to how many grants they have spent with no results.
When I make a bid it will be as a limited property management company not a charity like NMIPT.  :2funny:



If I got it, I'd start contacting companies that might be interested in the building or just parts of it.
Also offer shares to people in Swindon interested in owning a bit of Heritage Swindon.
(that is why a limited company and not a charity would be needed)

Lot of local Rail companies.. Atkins HQ is a heritage manor house they have restored.  Faithfull & Gould have been involved with quite a few restorations of other MIs.

Been thru these suggestions before. 
The one problem that stumps any idea is ownership.
Also no one seems to do much or research anything.

Making a bid might spur some action even if it might cost £500 for no return.
Hopefully I will force any interested parties to get a move on.
or end up with a derelict building.. :-\ ??? :o :coolsmiley:


As no one is seems to be interested, I'll  leave any updates until things have been sorted.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Brian V Cockbill on September 18, 2013, 07:26:51 AM
For all of us who wish to see the Mechanics' Institute preserved and used for the benefit of the Town, surely now is the time we ALL got together and forgot past difference.
I believe that there is more that unites us, than our differences - but our goal can only be achieved by building on all our strengths.
Clearly no one organisation, Council, company or individual can do so alone.
Is anybody prepared to join with me in an attempt to establish a consensus of views on how to proceed?
Brian V Cockbill 
     
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 18, 2013, 09:53:08 AM
For all of us who wish to see the Mechanics' Institute preserved and used for the benefit of the Town, surely now is the time we ALL got together and forgot past difference.
I believe that there is more that unites us, than our differences - but our goal can only be achieved by building on all our strengths.
Clearly no one organisation, Council, company or individual can do so alone.
Is anybody prepared to join with me in an attempt to establish a consensus of views on how to proceed?
Brian V Cockbill 
   

Absolutely agree and yes.

I'll even put up the £1500 and sort the pumping out.

It'll probably be the last bit of community goodwill that I take part in before I finally get to leave this crappy badly run town
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on September 18, 2013, 07:44:47 PM
For £1500? I'll give that money to the Mechanics' Trust tomorrow if it is that simple.....

I don't think anything involving the MI is that simple. If Karsten is correct you might be able to own a derelict building for £1500, but you would need millions to refurbish it. There will be plenty of people telling you what you can't do with your new building but no one telling you what you can.

For a while, I have been thinking that I would like to get involved in a community project of some sort as soon as I have moved house (next month hopefully). I would genuinely be interested in giving some time helping with a worthwhile project such as this.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on September 18, 2013, 07:55:41 PM
It CAN be done by a community

Newbridge Memo did it

I'm not interested in personal gain, ownership of the building, status, or milking an ego.

I have merely offered initial quoted funds and services for bringing the MI back to the community

I support community activities not politics
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 21, 2013, 12:51:32 PM
In the Advertiser last Friday

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10749619.Work_goes_on_to_save_historic_site/

Work goes on to save historic site

7:00pm Friday 18th October 2013 in News By Dominic Gilbert

Daniel Rose, a trustee of the Mechanics Institution Trust
A year on from the Mechanics’ Institute being named as one of the nation’s top 10 most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings, the Victorian Society has welcomed plans to secure the building’s future.

Exactly a year ago, the Victorian Society urged Swindon Council to take action to save the Grade II* listed building.

Since then ownership has passed to the Crown and the council has plans to apply for Heritage Lottery funding to restore it.

However, this plan is dependent on finding a viable, self-supporting role for the building.

Earlier this month English Heritage retained the building, which dates from the 1850s, on its at risk register.

It was given a Grade C listing as it has been on the list for 14 years, indicating it was subject to slow decay with no solution in place.

But the council and the Mechanic’s Institution Trust have been working to secure the building and find a use for it .

After acting as a social and community centre for railway workers in Swindon, the institute was later converted into a theatre.

After closing in the 1980s it suffered vandalism and arson, and was taken out of the hands of private developers when it fell into severe disrepair.

Chris Costelloe, the director of the Victorian Society, said: “We are pleased to hear that Swindon Council is working on funding strategies but this must be done with great urgency.

“This building is an important part of Swindon’s architectural heritage.

“We hope the council will work quickly to put plans in place for the repair and reuse of the Mechanics’ Institute as it cannot be allowed to deteriorate further.”

Daniel Rose, the chairman of the Mechanic’s Institution Trust, said: “We are working with the council, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“We all believe there is a solution, even if we do not know exactly what it is yet.

A spokesman from Swindon Council said: “Everyone wants to see the Mechanics’ Institute back in a condition we can all be proud of, and for it to have a viable use in the future.

“Unfortunately, there is no easy answer and whatever solution is found will cost a lot of money.

“The building has suffered a great deal of damage, which happened because the private owner failed to live up to his legal responsibilities.

“In the end, the council was forced to take legal action so that it could take over the building, make it watertight, and prevent collapse. This work cost £800,000.

“Legally the ownership of the building rests with the Crown, but the cost of maintaining it rests with the council.

“We are continuing to explore every possible avenue to restore the building, but its condition is no longer getting worse.”
 
Comments (5)

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10:57pm Fri 18 Oct 13
deepimpact says...

This is an historically important building and must be saved.
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8:13am Sat 19 Oct 13
Al Smith says...

People would do well to remember that well over 20 years ago there were viable plans to convert the MI into a high quality hotel. But thanks to the council, NIMBYs and self appointed guardians of the MI who insisted on community use this never happend. The rest is history as they say.

Sadly a lot of people have forgotten this, but the few that do remember all seem to be equally pee'd off about it.
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12:49pm Sat 19 Oct 13
MrAngry says...

The various interested parties claim to be working towards a solution, but in practice this is just talk. They have been talking about this building for 20 years and are no closer to a solution.
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1:44pm Sat 19 Oct 13
Ringer says...

15 years later...


“We all believe there is a solution, even if we do not know exactly what it is yet."


Doesn't that just fill you with confidence? Nobody has yet managed to explain just why it is that the self-proclaimed 'Mechanic’s Institution Trust' have any claim over this building whatsoever.
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2:35pm Sat 19 Oct 13
Ollie Dognicky says...

Al Smith wrote:
People would do well to remember that well over 20 years ago there were viable plans to convert the MI into a high quality hotel. But thanks to the council, NIMBYs and self appointed guardians of the MI who insisted on community use this never happend. The rest is history as they say.

Sadly a lot of people have forgotten this, but the few that do remember all seem to be equally pee'd off about it.
I thought that but it turned out the owner didn't have the funds that everybody thought he had
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For the few of you who do not want me to do this, you don't have to read it!

I am looking forward to the time when we can see a concrete plan of action backed by funding.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on October 21, 2013, 03:29:56 PM
I wouldn't mind seeing a plan backed-up with some money either.

To be honest Karsten's plan looks a lot more likely to achieve something than the MI-trust.  It's one thing to oppose drastic and unsightly changes to the building but another to oppose anything that doesn't fit-in with their vibrant vision  >:D for the building. I think it's about time the Mechanics Institute got some money and know-how instead of SBC-style visions.

I'll stop there before I get into a full blown rant  :tickedoff:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on October 21, 2013, 03:51:39 PM
Agreed Gorgon. 

If we are to take the MI seriously they must show some initiative fund raising wise and stop relying on other people all the time.

and before anybody says anything I really want to take the MI seriously and then we can all wade in and help.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 16, 2013, 01:48:55 AM
In the Advertiser last Friday
....

Al Smith wrote:
.....
I thought that but it turned out the owner didn't have the funds that everybody thought he had
...
Quote »
Report this post »[/color]



After getting the title deeds for the MI from the landregistry it seems Matthew Singh had £585,000 to buy it off Mountmead Ltd.
Well that is what he has told the Landregistry.
He then got two £500,000 loans from HSBC???? on a derelict building?????
That's nearly a 200% mortgage!

Who checks ludicrous loans like these at HSBC? 

Anyone else thinks this stinks?    Who checks up on this?
Anyone got a HSBC account willing to ask HSBC who and why these loans were granted?


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 16, 2013, 08:37:40 AM
Talking about the why's and and wherefore's of Matthew Singh and what he did and didn't do achieves absolutely nothing Karsten!!

I rode past THE Mechanics on the bus yesterday and had two thoughts.

1  When are we going to hear about a Concrete Plan accompanied by Funding to make something actually happen?

2.  How much is the ongoing cost to the Council for all that Scaffolding on Hire and when they are trying to Cut £15m from next year's budget for how much longer is this sustainable?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Brian V Cockbill on November 16, 2013, 08:41:05 AM
If that was the going rate, SBC could have acquired the MI for around the amount that they have wasted on the HiFi venture.     The building then would have been in a far better condition than it is today.   They would not have spent so much money in temporary repairs and the ongoing costs e.g. scaffording.   
So much for Mechanics' being a prioriety of the former Leader.   
Now they can't afford to run the town's recreation and arts assets giving away the Oasis etc.      Yet at the same time are proposing to build a Skate Board Park, aspparently against local opposition - will they then give that away too?
Brian V Cockbill
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 16, 2013, 08:49:46 AM
Now they can't afford to run the town's recreation and arts assets giving away the Oasis etc.      Yet at the same time are proposing to build a Skate Board Park, aspparently against local opposition - will they then give that away too?
Brian V Cockbill

Brian, The Link is the subject of a privatization tender and it specifically excludes the Skate Park as that will only represent Cost which will be left with the good Council Tax Payers of Swindon.  Otherwise why would it not be included?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 16, 2013, 11:38:41 PM
So SBC could have bought grand heritage for less than a wifi farce.

I attended many a meeting where councillors suggested that we fastrack a ten storey greenhouse before a millionaire (who never was) developer runs away.

Matthew Singh often described the MI as " just a railway social club"

With a council and local media paying so little respect to the town and community, for it's own roots, achievements, culture, and heritage, it's hardly surprising that the town is the butt of many a comedy show
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 17, 2013, 03:11:24 AM
sorry duplicate post..
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 17, 2013, 03:13:35 AM
SBC never had to buy the MI, for over a decade people have asked SBC to compulsory purchase the MI using its powers to impose Urgent Repairs.

SBC have never shown an interest, until ScS suddenly got the job.   Was that because the building was in sudden danger of collapse or Scs?  Me thinks the latter.

Just why SBC spent £1.2m getting ScS to do Urgent repairs we will never know, just like why they gave err lent £400k to Tricky Ricky.

SBC could have taken over ownership of the building many times, but have always used the 'financial liabilities' of the building as an excuse not to.
The same is true now.  Why hasn't SBC claimed ownership?  They don't want to.

The building is in BonoVacatia at the moment.   http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/ (http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/)
I updated the Treasury Solicitor  a month or so ago as no one had told them ForeFront Estates Ltd had gone bankrupt. 
Would have thought SBC would have done that?

Anyways I expect the building to be valued and then put up for auction.   
Doubt it will be valued the same as MS says he paid for it.   Hopefully it will be a symbolic valuation.

I've made a minimum bid so TSOL don't have a reason to disclaim the building.

Who wants to make a guess at what the building will go for?

Matthew Singh registered the building for the first time at the LandRegistry in 2002.

He split it in two so plot one is the North part with FlyTower and plot two is the Reading Room and 1890 extention.

I reckon plot 1 as 1000 and plot 2 maybe 10k to 200k.
Of course I hope they go for just 1k.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 17, 2013, 09:52:02 AM

SBC could have taken over ownership of the building many times, but have always used the 'financial liabilities' of the building as an excuse not to.
The same is true now.  Why hasn't SBC claimed ownership?  They don't want to.



Perhaps because they can't find a self funding use for the building. There is plenty of grant funding available to restore the Mechanics but most of it comes with strings.

I think it's probably quite wise of SBC to avoid another  Steam debacle.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 17, 2013, 11:02:27 AM
I think it's probably quite wise of SBC to avoid another  Steam debacle.

Interesting comment ph.

I understand that the project management of STEAM was extremely wanting and not only was the funding short because they had not provisioned for safety glass at an additional cost of another £1m but that it initially ran at a loss of up to £800,000 per annum.  They believed that the lottery fund would give them the additional money required for their mistake which resulted in a refusal.  Surprise Surprise!!  A lesson to be learnt here I suggest.

The operating problems have been solved by the introduction of a competent management team and it now runs in surplus.

So if the right people were introduced into the equation to the Mechanics I feel sure it could become a Win Win situation for both the people presently involved and Swindon as a whole.  And until such time that this does happen it will continue to sink into the abyss.  Oh I wish it were otherwise!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 17, 2013, 11:03:25 AM
Quote
I reckon plot 1 as 1000 and plot 2 maybe 10k to 200k.
Of course I hope they go for just 1k.

How do you find the MI on Bonovacantia?

Pity We've decided to leave Swindon.

I'd offer 200k and live in part of it then let people who care restore it
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 17, 2013, 12:02:32 PM

So if the right people were introduced into the equation to the Mechanics I feel sure it could become a Win Win situation for both the people presently involved and Swindon as a whole.  And until such time that this does happen it will continue to sink into the abyss.  Oh I wish it were otherwise!!

Exactly right Richard. BUT to move this forward someone has to come up with a business plan that will mean the building can run at a surplus once restored. To date no-one has done this. The MI plan is deeply flawed.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 17, 2013, 12:49:50 PM

So if the right people were introduced into the equation to the Mechanics I feel sure it could become a Win Win situation for both the people presently involved and Swindon as a whole.  And until such time that this does happen it will continue to sink into the abyss.  Oh I wish it were otherwise!!

Exactly right Richard. BUT to move this forward someone has to come up with a business plan that will mean the building can run at a surplus once restored. To date no-one has done this. The MI plan is deeply flawed.

Agreed ph, they need a viable business plan which is entirely independent and not dependent on anyone else.

Let us hope the MI read this and come up with the goods

although somehow I doubt they have it in them or they would have already done it.

But that said there is still time to do so and prove us all wrong

and nobody would be happier than I if they did so!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 17, 2013, 01:58:19 PM
SBC could have taken over ownership of the building many times, but have always used the 'financial liabilities' of the building as an excuse not to.
The same is true now.  Why hasn't SBC claimed ownership?  They don't want to.

And quite rightly too. I have heard that it would cost £30 million to refurbish. This sounds like an exaggerated estimate, but if SBC can spend £25 million on a car park perhaps this figure is not unrealistic.

Even if SBC could acquire the building for a nominal fee, any future use would have to justify the huge refurbishment cost.

A reckless foolhardy approach would involve:-
a) Buy building because it looks cheap.
b) Decide what to do with it.

A more sensible approach would involve:-
1. Think of a suitable use for the building.
2. Appoint an architect to cost up the refurbishment.
3. Appoint an accountant to estimate future running costs and revenue potential.
4. Value the building based on 2 and 3.

So far, it appears than potential investors are struggling with stage 1.

Others have compared buying the building with the cost of the failed Wi-Fi project. At least Wi-Fi had a business plan. A flawed, overly optimistic, ego drive business plan, but a plan nevertheless.

In my opinion buying the MI without putting a realistic, fully costed business plan in place would make the Wi-Fi fiasco look like a stroke of genius.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 18, 2013, 01:35:00 AM

So if the right people were introduced into the equation to the Mechanics I feel sure it could become a Win Win situation for both the people presently involved and Swindon as a whole.  And until such time that this does happen it will continue to sink into the abyss.  Oh I wish it were otherwise!!


Exactly right Richard. BUT to move this forward someone has to come up with a business plan that will mean the building can run at a surplus once restored. To date no-one has done this. The MI plan is deeply flawed.


Agreed ph, they need a viable business plan which is entirely independent and not dependent on anyone else.

Let us hope the MI read this and come up with the goods

although somehow I doubt they have it in them or they would have already done it.

But that said there is still time to do so and prove us all wrong

and nobody would be happier than I if they did so!


Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...


The building is worth nuthin and will probably cost nuthin (Well £1000+).

Mountmead ltd and Forefront Estates had the building for 30+ yrs and they did nuthin.

So why does the building need to run at a surplus and what is the rush to restore it?
It took 10yrs + to build just the north part.
Look at Camden Market it was a success as a derelict industrial buildings 25yrs ago and is now a tourist attraction with 'posh' shops and market stalls.

To do or even spend anything on the building, you first need to own it.
Anything else is throwing good money after bad.
(SBC does seem to like spending money on property they don't own)

As for uses there are plenty..   but not all are fancy..

I think the fly tower would suit a 'wall climbing' company
  http://www.castle-climbing.co.uk/the-castle-history (http://www.castle-climbing.co.uk/the-castle-history)
or perhaps an indoor Garden connected to a cafe/restaurant/stage..  part of it might make a preschool?  wedding hall?   freecycle hall, internet cafe, Rollercity,  who knows.
Maybe a railway engineering company might be interested in extra offices due to the Electrification of WestCoast main line or perhaps the HS2?
A new LaserQuest site or kids playarea?

The basic repairs to the roof and outside will not cost £30m!
I bet SBC might even be helpful as the Northern part is a danger to public and transport so aiding in making that part safe is in SBC best interests.

Roof that partly collapsed is same contruction as in the Health Hydro.  Steel girders with 2" planks then slates (which Forefront removed).

I bet EH would allow the building to be repaired with latest tech as the building was built as a tech school to train the workers of GWR.  Hence the Reading room and library.

NU have a system for attaching slates and inroof solar panels that would make replacing the roof lot less expensive.
http://www.nulok.co.uk/ (http://www.nulok.co.uk/)

Once the buidling is weather tight and perhaps Mothballed I would expect local companies would show more interest.

Letting the building decay will only cost more in the long run.

To own and keep the building safe shouldn't cost that much.

If SBC doesn't do it then I'm sure there will be a new owner.. probably not NMIPT tho as you do need some captital.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 18, 2013, 10:24:52 AM
Lots of ideas there Karsten, however you are missing the point.

Yes it should be possible to take over the building for a song, however the minute you do you put yourself at risk of an urgent repairs notice being served and worse SCS stepping in to do the works.

£30 million to fully restore the place - sounds reasonable. Even allowing for grants that is going to be a hell of a lot of finance to raise / service. That was the problem with NMIPT. Their vision for the place was never going to raise enough income to service the required borrowings.

Now your idea about getting a railway company to restore the place as their HQ is probably the most sensible that has been made.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 18, 2013, 01:42:52 PM
Lots of ideas there Karsten, however you are missing the point.

Yes it should be possible to take over the building for a song, however the minute you do you put yourself at risk of an urgent repairs notice being served and worse SCS stepping in to do the works.

£30 million to fully restore the place - sounds reasonable. Even allowing for grants that is going to be a hell of a lot of finance to raise / service. That was the problem with NMIPT. Their vision for the place was never going to raise enough income to service the required borrowings.

Now your idea about getting a railway company to restore the place as their HQ is probably the most sensible that has been made.

So you think SBC will send in ScS again after  only a few years and after the telling off from EH?
To do a Urgent repairs they have to foot the bill, err how much did they recover and how much did MS Forefront pay up?

A CIC company is limited.  SBC would risk the same thing happening again.
ScS is not private anymore and is now inhouse.
Also I don't intend to own it myself (just a bit of it and I'd do that up with my own funds)


EH have a book on rescuing Heritage building and Mothballing is just as valid as development.
I thought that was what ScS is supposed to have done.. 
Make it safe and mothballed the building.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 18, 2013, 10:39:08 PM
The building is worth nuthin and will probably cost nuthin (Well £1000+).
Mountmead ltd and Forefront Estates had the building for 30+ yrs and they did nuthin.
So why does the building need to run at a surplus and what is the rush to restore it?

Why pay £1000+ and do nuthin, when you could spend nuthin and let someone else do nuthin?

To do or even spend anything on the building, you first need to own it.

Better to formulate a costed plan and then buy it. The building has an owner without a plan. Having a different owner without a plan is not progress.

I think the fly tower would suit a 'wall climbing' company or perhaps an indoor Garden connected to a cafe/restaurant/stage..  part of it might make a preschool?  wedding hall?   freecycle hall, internet cafe, Rollercity,  who knows.

These are potentially good uses but will only reach fruition if financially viable. If it costs £30million to refurbish the building, it will be the world's first £30million freecycle hall.

Maybe a railway engineering company might be interested in extra offices due to the Electrification of WestCoast main line or perhaps the HS2?.

Unlikely as electrification will be complete before the building is refurbished. The cost is still the issue. If it is quicker and cheaper to build a new steel framed building than it is to refurbish an old one, most companies trading in a competitive industry will go for the cheap option ahead of the romantic one. Where would their staff prefer to work? An old building with tiny windows and inadequate parking or a new purpose built, light and airy building with free car park, DDA compliant access etc?

The basic repairs to the roof and outside will not cost £30m!
So what will it cost? Until someone has a costed plan, my estimate of £30 million remains the only and therefore best estimate. Also what is the point only carrying out the basic repairs? It is one thing to spend £1000 on a derelict building and leave it used. Spending £1 million (?) on the roof and leaving it idle is stepping up a level.

I bet SBC might even be helpful as the Northern part is a danger to public and transport so aiding in making that part safe is in SBC best interests.

More likely that SBC will serve notice on the new owner and make them do it.

I bet EH would allow the building to be repaired with latest tech as the building was built as a tech school to train the workers of GWR.

I think they are more likely to insist on a historically accurate replacement.

To own and keep the building safe shouldn't cost that much.

Making it building safe will cost a small fortune on architects fees and construction costs. Having made this investment you would need to consider any interest payments on loans, insurance, security to keep safe from vandals, carry out routine maintenance under the watchful eye of EH and SBC. EH are going to be wary of DIY and will expect to approve plans and method statements. They probably won't let you paint the skirting boards without approving the colour.

I am not saying it won't or can't happen, but in my opinion it requires careful planning and costing before acting.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 19, 2013, 12:00:47 AM
TS gets more depressing every day.
:bash:
:surrender:
The End is nigh!' is all anyone says..

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 19, 2013, 02:14:14 PM
TS gets more depressing every day.
:bash:
:surrender:
The End is nigh!' is all anyone says..

It might be if you are looking for a quick fix Karsten, but please get real before you get embroiled in something that you will never be able to control.

The Trust is noted by its continued silence

or is that an encouraging fact?

Bob Wright knows why, so why is there a dearth of information?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 19, 2013, 04:45:42 PM
TS gets more depressing every day.
:bash:
:surrender:
The End is nigh!' is all anyone says..

Can quite understand that feeling Karsten. Given the same enthusiasm and dogged determination you showed over the Croft debacle if anyone can pull a rabbit from a hat it is probably you.

You do however need to start on a realistic track.

A CIC is almost certainly not the correct type of legal entity.

Even if you want to mothball the building you will need to raise a seven figure sum.

The only way this mess can be sorted it to find an end user for the building who will either pay enough in rent to service the capital cost of refurbishment or actually take ownership and pay for it.

That's exactly what Matthew Singh was trying to do until NMIPT derailled his planning. Had they not interfered we would have an Hotel there now. Not ideal by any means I grant you but better that athe wasteland we still have.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 19, 2013, 04:53:24 PM
Richard is 100% right Karsten.

Solutions and creative ideas for what to do with the mechanics are two-a-penny. But someone somewhere has to fund them to make them happen - with the sting in the tail of someone else having to continue funding the investment unless the enterprise is self-sustaining...

If any single body could/should or would have come up with a solution after 20+ years, one might have expected the Mechanicis Trust to have done it by now. That if nothing else shows that whilst optimism is to be encouraged, unrealistic dreams don't survive in the spotlight of reality for very long. You could say that was defeatist - but I'd prefer a heathy dose of realism - perhaps if we'd seen it sooner, the building might not be in the shocking state it is now...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 19, 2013, 07:23:25 PM
That if nothing else shows that whilst optimism is to be encouraged, unrealistic dreams don't survive in the spotlight of reality for very long.

Spot on.

The starting point needs to be accurately working out how much the building will cost to refurbish. Once this ballpark figure is known it will rule several potential uses in or out. This will allow the potential owner to focus his or her efforts. Trying to think of a solution and then working out if it is affordable is just stabbing the dark.

From what I can make out, Matthew Singh was an experienced property developer with a decent business plan and he still couldn't make it work.

The project needs a realistic business plan backed up with lots of determination and enthusiasm.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 20, 2013, 10:30:53 PM
Unfortunately a some of the people (the various incarnations of the MI trust) coming up with ideas don't seem to grasp that even though there plans are feasible, meaning there are no insurmountable technical barriers, they might not be financially sustainable (projects like this often cost more than first thought and enough money can't be raised to pay for it or service the loans).

We don't need feasibility studies we need to see a solid business plan.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 21, 2013, 08:38:40 AM
As far as I know the MI plans have always centred on community use in some shape or other, those plans were always viable as afar as I could see, until the last five years or so, no chance now without major funding from charitable sources. 

No, not fair to say NO chance, but that would have to be one mean funding bid, with a strong governance on the MI. 

however if I had invested as much time (that most precious commodity) in that building as they have, I would have to keep going.

They have stopped it being knocked down completely and raised awareness to its historical and local significance, so it's not been a waste of time.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 21, 2013, 10:54:41 PM
Well said Muggins  :thumb:

I get totally racked off with people trying to imply that the trust are somehow "the enemy"

They have often been the only people aware of what was really proposed (behind the media smoke screen) and worked tirelessly and thankless in the interest of Swindon's community and heritage
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 22, 2013, 08:57:28 AM
I think that what we are saying is that no matter how aggressive some of their campaigning has been in the past, you can't take away the fact that we knew they were there and what their aim was - from which they have not wavered over decades.

That's what we need a lot more of in all sort of things - FOCUS and aggressive campaigning.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on November 22, 2013, 10:26:02 AM
I'm sure there are many people in the town who would want the building up and running, I have memories of going to the theatre at christmas, when we lived in 2a Emblin Square, but the time must surely come, when enough is enough, how much has the council paid out for the roof repairs, how much is the scaffolding, all around the building, costing in hire rates, how much did the security fence around the building cost.  Do we wait until the fairy godmother comes around and takes the building on , or do we say, in final desperation, that enough is enough and the building is raised to the ground, and something is built in its place, which can be a thing to use and not be a cash cow for funds..
While I'm  here, remember the man today.........
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 22, 2013, 12:14:58 PM
Well said Muggins  :thumb:

I get totally racked off with people trying to imply that the trust are somehow "the enemy"

They have often been the only people aware of what was really proposed (behind the media smoke screen) and worked tirelessly and thankless in the interest of Swindon's community and heritage

No-one is denying that the trust have the best of intentions - BUT and it is a big but. Without the trust the place would now be an hotel and the Council would be a million pounds better off.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 22, 2013, 03:36:36 PM
No, PH, without the trust it would be a pile of rubble holding up a road somewhere, you are not going back far enough. 

The Trust had to point out it's heritage value before it was saved - maybe to be then to turned into an hotel? Although the parking situation would have stopped that until quite recently. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 22, 2013, 04:23:50 PM
I'd have more time for them if they'd spent the past 20+ years raising money to do something with the building (compare that to Karsten who's trying to do stuff off his own back) or (because they've failed to do that) they supported any redevelopment that preserved (or worked with them to preserve) the look of the building irrespective of whether there is any community use.

If it wasn't for the precursor to the MI trust and NIMBYs objecting to plans for a hotel in the late 80's/early 90's the building would probably never have ended-up in the state it's in - hope all those who objected are pleased with the outcome of their efforts!

As for the money issue, local charities can do a really good job of raising money if they put some effort into it. For example the Prospect Hospice charity shops each raise about £100,000 per annum, Wilts and Berks canal trust are in the process of raising a £325,000 community funded loan to buy a former pub next to Dauntsey Lock. 


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 22, 2013, 05:59:03 PM
They could not raise money for  it, it was not theirs. They could have raised money if it was leased too them. It was,n,t

They did what they could,raised a fighting fund. And they have fought and won the battle of awareness raising, ad getting it listed.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 22, 2013, 06:13:09 PM
No, PH, without the trust it would be a pile of rubble holding up a road somewhere, you are not going back far enough. 

The Trust had to point out it's heritage value before it was saved - maybe to be then to turned into an hotel? Although the parking situation would have stopped that until quite recently.

I grant you that it was only because of the Trust that the building was listed. But even if the building had disappeared it would have been a better result than we have today. Listing any building is a double edged sword. Did the people of Swindon care in the 1980's - the Council even turned down the chance to buy  it.

Had the Trust not intervened then planning permission would almost certainly have been granted for an hotel in 2004/5.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 22, 2013, 07:33:30 PM
The Mechanics Trust website is worth a read. In particular the section which highlights the top 10 myths about the mechanics:-

http://mechanics-trust.org.uk/mechanics-myths/ (http://mechanics-trust.org.uk/mechanics-myths/)

I think Myths 5 and 10 sum up the problem:-

5 ‘Swindon Council should let the owner turn it into something useful – anything, as long as he “saves” the building’
Any owner of the Mechanics’ is prevented, by law, from inappropriate development of the Grade II* Listed building – specifically by Planning Policy Guidance 15 (PPG15). This was introduced in 1991 by the previous Conservative government, and remains a cornerstone of planning legislation in Britain. In 2008, an independent government inspector reviewing Swindon’s Central Area Action Plan warned the Borough Council against contravening PPG15 in its handling of the Mechanics’. She concluded: “PPG15 acknowledges that the best use for a Listed building will often be the use for which the building was originally designed; reinstating that use should be the first option when the future of the building is considered.” In other words, only if returning the building to its original use has been fully investigated and found to be unviable should they even consider allowing it to be turned into anything else. Experts fail to understand how making the Mechanics’ a hotel, for example, could be said to be either ‘appropriate’ or ‘saving it’.

10 ‘Here’s the bottom line: it will cost too much and the Council can’t afford it’
It will, indeed, cost a lot of money to restore – £12million upwards, according to the Trust – but nobody is expecting the Council to pick up the bill. Lottery and heritage funds should provide the necessary money for restoration, and it is not anticipated that local Council Taxpayers will pay anything towards restoration costs. The big issue here is whether any future owner can meet the ongoing costs of running it, because this will not be drawn from national funds, and is unlikely to be subsidised by Swindon Borough Council (in the way that it subsidises the STEAM Museum annually. That’s why an economically viable business plan from a non-profit-seeking organisation, like the one proposed by the Trust, is crucial. The potential for the project to restore the Mechanics’ and turn it once again into a social and community asset is proven by the success of many such projects across the country since the National Lottery was established in 1995, the year the Trust was formed.

In Summary
The building should ideally be returned to it's original use, by a non-profit making organisation with in excess of £12 million to spare.

If English Heritage believe the building is worthy of a Grade II* listing, why don't they buy it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 23, 2013, 09:04:43 AM
They could not raise money for  it, it was not theirs. They could have raised money if it was leased too them. It was,n,t

They did what they could,raised a fighting fund. And they have fought and won the battle of awareness raising, ad getting it listed.

They could raise money, raise money to buy (or lease) it and then renovate!  Just like the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust are doing to buy a pub next to Dauntsey Locks - they plan to buy it and then renovate it.

If the MI trust had got off their backsides and raised money they might have had £500,000 (the price Mr Singh paid for the MI) with which to buy the building.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 23, 2013, 09:12:50 AM
It's a catch 22, Gorgon, they couldn't lease it or buy it until they get the money and can't get that much money without already having the lease.

Then they would have to have the money up front to buy And do the repairs.

The Mechanics was in private hands, who could decide or not to sell it. The Wilts and Berks (not taking anything away from their achievements, a wider pond from which to gain support and a different set up to get hold of the canal, backed up by a good, well practised national organisation. 

I will agree that had the  MI in the past not been so dogged about the use, they may have done better with local support, but no one else was coming up with any idea that would have gained charitable support and money, because that is were the money to do it would have come from.  Sooo much has changed since the Trust was formed.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 23, 2013, 12:18:20 PM
If the MI trust had got off their backsides and raised money they might have had £500,000 (the price Mr Singh paid for the MI) with which to buy the building.


Back in 2010, Matthew Singh claimed to have spent £2 million on the building.

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/4870865.All_change_for_Mechanics__Institute/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/4870865.All_change_for_Mechanics__Institute/)

He is often cast as the villain, but I think he has tried as hard as anyone to save the building.

The following quote from Matthew Singh is also interesting:-

The council are being obstructive. If they would give me the go-ahead I could have the south side finished by the summer. Rod Bluh has said he wants to cut the ribbon but why should I let him when he has been making it so difficult for me?

Typical ego-maniac planning the opening ceremony before the plans are approved.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 23, 2013, 01:42:10 PM
Have a look at what WBCT are doing to buy the former Peterborough Arms near Dauntsey http://www.wbct.org.uk/branches/foxham-lyneham/news/1210-peterborough-arms-a-dauntsey-lock-canal-centre-appeal-a-loan-investment (http://www.wbct.org.uk/branches/foxham-lyneham/news/1210-peterborough-arms-a-dauntsey-lock-canal-centre-appeal-a-loan-investment) They're getting their members and the public to basically invest in their plan, I might not agree with all of their ideas but they do seem to know how to raise money.

The MI trust was established back in the 90's and there were still a lot of former railway workers out there and general goodwill from the public.  All it would have taken is to find 10,000 people (former railway workers, their families or the general public) to donate £50 each and they'd have had that £500,000.

Look at Tornado the Class A1 locomotive that was finished a few years ago, the trust that built that was established in 1990 and by by 2009 they were running the locomotive! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Peppercorn_Class_A1_60163_Tornado (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Peppercorn_Class_A1_60163_Tornado)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 24, 2013, 02:29:49 AM
If the MI trust had got off their backsides and raised money they might have had £500,000 (the price Mr Singh paid for the MI) with which to buy the building.


Back in 2010, Matthew Singh claimed to have spent £2 million on the building.

[url]http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/4870865.All_change_for_Mechanics__Institute/[/url] ([url]http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/4870865.All_change_for_Mechanics__Institute/[/url])

He is often cast as the villain, but I think he has tried as hard as anyone to save the building.

The following quote from Matthew Singh is also interesting:-

The council are being obstructive. If they would give me the go-ahead I could have the south side finished by the summer. Rod Bluh has said he wants to cut the ribbon but why should I let him when he has been making it so difficult for me?

Typical ego-maniac planning the opening ceremony before the plans are approved.



in 2002 before MS bought the building Mountmead ltd faced SBC issuing an Urgent repair notice,
so he sold it to a 'fellow' developer.
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2002/09/05/7340757.Stopping_the_rot_at_the_Mechanics/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2002/09/05/7340757.Stopping_the_rot_at_the_Mechanics/)
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2002/10/25/7336124.A_turning_point_for_Mechanics_/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2002/10/25/7336124.A_turning_point_for_Mechanics_/)
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2003/09/18/7306630.Look_to_the_future/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/archive/2003/09/18/7306630.Look_to_the_future/)

At that time the roof of the North part was complete with not one slate missing. 
The south roof was holed by scaffolding poles 'vandals' had used.
But the building was inspected and found to be in relative good condition after being derelict for nearly 20yrs.
I.e no water incursion damage etc (apart from flooded basement of the Flytower.

If MS has spent 2 million on it, where?   
In fact he said he would rather 'let the building rot' if his plans weren't accepted.
He isn't a developer never was, in my opinion he is more into property speculation. 
He got £1m in loans on a building that is deemed a financial liability.   
Am I the only one that wonders how a bank like HSBC can just write off £1m and not investigate how it lost the money?

In my opinion the fact that Mathew Singh took all the slate off the roof of the North part and didn't make good the rain water drainage leaving the roof without protection for nearly 5 yrs is a crime in deed.
He did what he said he would do and left the roof to rot.
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8408150.Mechanics____was_close_to_falling_down__says_architect/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8408150.Mechanics____was_close_to_falling_down__says_architect/)


Where are all the slates from the north roof and the roofing lead flashing? 
What about the roof paneling of the reading room which was the same as in the houses of Parliament.

All I ever saw of any development from MS is his demolishing of the toilets and installation of white PVC dormer windows and the removal of the North roof.
A lot of the cast iron window frames were knocked out and skipped by his eastern European workers in the initial clearance in 2003.
A lot of heritage has been lost.   I think even the MI's green man has gone.
I doubt MS is out of pocket.


As for hotel plans etc ..  Mountmead did have planning permission granted in the mid 90's, even though SBC denied the planning application originally.
The plans expired after the default 10yrs with no funding for a hotel or any works ever being started.
In my opinion Mountmead ltd and ForeFront estates ltd never wanted to develop the buidling.
It's easier to make money otherwise and they wanted it demolished as MS application to demolish the North part proved.

He had planning approved to develop the South part in 2004 and in the following 5 yrs he did little bits of repairs basically scavenging  parts from the North part (like tiles).
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/858047.We_want_to_buy_the_Mechanics___/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/858047.We_want_to_buy_the_Mechanics___/)
www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/5013835.Former_Mechanics__project_manager_speaks_out_about_safety_concerns/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/5013835.Former_Mechanics__project_manager_speaks_out_about_safety_concerns/)

If he had been a serious developer he would have acted on the planning he had and converted the South part in to flats and started renting.  He never did.

Actions speak louder than words and MS actions in my opinion damaged the building more than any little repairs he did.

Of course SBC causing a fire and a roof collapse didn't help either ;-P :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 24, 2013, 11:10:35 AM
I totally agree with Karsten on just about all those points.

The slates were removed just after he'd withdrawn plans that were going to be investigated by the office of the deputy prime minister.

I think the time of year was approximately October.

At a previous meeting, the Mechanics Trust asked Matthew Singh if he would consider taking the opportunity to consider the heritage value of the building and do something great for the people of Swindon.

He literally said "I don't care about that"
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 24, 2013, 12:10:12 PM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/wiltshire/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8796000/8796557.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/wiltshire/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8796000/8796557.stm)

The planning permission for the original hotel expired in 1995, it was granted planning permission by the secretary of state in 1990, the original plans were submitted in 1988!    In 1987 the Mechanics' Institution Action Group was founded to fight plans to redevelop the MI, hope they are pleased with their efforts.

I'm sure people remember the early 1990's recession (which lasted from 1990 to 1993), I think it's fair to say that plans submitted during a period of economic growth look a lot less promising when an economy is going into recession.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 24, 2013, 10:17:47 PM
That wasn't Mr Singhs' ten storey tower plan which was set to be investigated.

The plans were withdrawn.
Shortly followed by the roof tiles being withdrawn.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 24, 2013, 10:53:16 PM
That wasn't Mr Singhs' ten storey tower plan which was set to be investigated.

The plans were withdrawn.
Shortly followed by the roof tiles being withdrawn.

No - that was the next set of plans - also scuppered by the Trust.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 24, 2013, 11:40:32 PM
That wasn't Mr Singhs' ten storey tower plan which was set to be investigated.

The plans were withdrawn.
Shortly followed by the roof tiles being withdrawn.

No - that was the next set of plans - also scuppered by the Trust.

Or scuppered by the ODPM
Thank goodness
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 25, 2013, 08:14:46 AM
The Trust does not have the power to scupper anything, they only raise awareness and then mightier organisations than they, step in and do the scuppering - usually with very good reason.


I suspect the reason that the mightier, those with the power to do anything at all, can't purchase it and do it up, have a very long (priority) list of other endangered buildings around the country.  The Mechanics does not appear to be bottom of that list.


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 25, 2013, 09:01:02 AM
The Trust does not have the power to scupper anything, they only raise awareness and then mightier organisations than they, step in and do the scuppering - usually with very good reason.


But that is exactly what they did.

I grant you the plans were not to everyone's taste. English Heritage accepted them reluctantly, BUT if the trust had not intervened then the mechanics would now be an hotel.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 25, 2013, 12:26:58 PM
No it would not have been, the reason for not agreeing to an hotel was PARKING!!!

You are attributing far too much power to the Trust.  Looks to me like they were the whipping boy for that one.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 25, 2013, 01:22:30 PM
No M - that was far from an insurmountable problem.

I'm certainly not crediting the trust with power - exactly the opposite. They have been nothing but an interferance, touting ridiculous plans that although sounding attractive would never have been able to become reality.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 25, 2013, 02:38:37 PM
Maybe they did have an influence if parking was cited as the reason for refusing planning permission - especially when Bristol Street car park is a matter of feet away. 

Could it be that Swindon town centre, with its inability to attract decent developers, is still suffering from decisions like that?  Architects talk to each other, developers talk to each other, architects and developers talk to each other.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 25, 2013, 10:47:24 PM
in the early 90's there was an Action Group but it was not the Trust which was not created until  97 or 98 I believe.
The Action Group raised public opinion against the plans for a Disco/Club not a hotel.

SBC denied the plans originally and the then owner appealed and the government overruled SBC decision and granted planning for the hotel.
An opinion poll showed people preferred a hotel to a club, yet the term 'Mechanic Dancing' I believe refers to the time the 1890 extension held a Jive Dance club.  So the MI has a history as a place for pleasure and dancing.

The NMIPT was originally set up to lobby for the Mechanics but the constituion of the charity was changed in 2001? to cover all buildings in danger in Swindon and the local area which watered down the NMIPT usefulness even more in my opinion.

You can't blame the trust for stalling or stopping any of the projects where planning was given.
So if a hotle suited the MI it would be one and the same for the dozen residential flats Matthew Singh boasted he would create.

I do think the MI have been a red herring but that is just my opinion.  They are not the villians the previous 2 owners are the ones that brought the MI to the state it is in now.
They didn't lose out on the building I'm sure.

FYI  the guy that originally bought the MI and wanted to create a club, bought the Corn Mill after reselling the MI and created the Mission. 
I seem to remember him telling me the MI was sold for only £15,000 by BR.
Even so he made a loss on it.
I didn't agree with everything he did to that building but his action and investment did save the building.
I spoke to him when he was developing the Mission,  he had NO kind words for SBC.
I think the main problem is that the building has been privately owned by single developers since it was sold by BR.
It should be owned by a group of people. 
Preferably by Swindon residents that are motivated to bring the building back to life, not develop it.

I've had responses from SBC about their intent for the building....
... only good and talks are being held... so same procedure as every year, Miss Sofie..

TSOL are deluged with cases so haven't looked at the case as yet.. :-(


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 25, 2013, 11:01:35 PM
It should be owned by a group of people. 
Preferably by Swindon residents that are motivated to bring the building back to life, not develop it.


Yes - good idea - but therein lies the problem.

I know most of a social refurb can be grant funded   -BUT
Have you any idea what the cost of RUNNING a refurbished mechanics will be?

That was the problem with the trust. Their vision for the building simply didn't add up. Unless someone can come up with a solid business plan that means the building can pay for itself then it has to be developed.

The place is a sad indictment of a lot that is wrong with the town and the sooner we let this development happen the better.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on November 25, 2013, 11:38:08 PM
I have racked my brains trying to think of a use for the Mechanics that is in keeping with it's roots and has some commercial viability.

The best I can come up with is an interactive science museum along the lines of @Bristol.

STEAM was always going to struggle because most people will visit once and not return for several years. I have heard that SBC projections for visitor numbers were based on the railway museum in York. Unlike Swindon, York is a beautiful historic city with several attractions and lots of tourists.

An interactive museum might benefit from repeat visitors as the demand will be driven by children. The children will run around the building whilst Mum and Dad will enjoy an overpriced cappuccino and cake in the café. The same children will 'exit via the gift shop' and buy an over priced science related toy. Mum and Dad won't mind paying for it because it is educational.

The same venue could host science lectures, similar to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, or Faraday Lectures that used to be held at Colston Hall.

Swindon is already home to the Science Museum at Wroughton and the various Science Research Councils. The town also has several large engineering/technology firms like BMW, Honda, Intel and Halcrow.

Could a building with a railway heritage have a science or engineering future? 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 25, 2013, 11:38:18 PM
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.

Camden Market is managed by one company as is the Outlet Village, not to mention the whole of Swindon town Centre.

But it is the individual companies, shops, businesses, etc that run their part.

The building is supposed to be in a mothballed state with the south Part a watertight building striped of anything of value. 
 The North Part is separated from the South by one door in the back wall of the Fly tower/Reading room.

It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

There was planning granted for turning the West/East wing into residential flats so a precedent has been set.

Perhaps the whole place could be a Wedding Hall/after party place people could hire for a cheap rent.
Or perhaps a second Jedi Church? (First church of Jedi is in Anglesey/Wales)
Swindon has its own Luke SkyWalker with his own shop not far from the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 25, 2013, 11:59:22 PM
..
 The town also has several large engineering/technology firms like BMW, Honda, Intel and Halcrow.

Could a building with a railway heritage have a science or engineering future?

Well if you include AMEY, URS, Atkins, Great Western and not to mention NetworkRail and other smaller Rail engineering companies!
All these are within a short walk from the Mechanics;

Alexander House, Tri Centre 3, Milford House, Western House and SN1 (old council building opposite station)

Why not a smaller indoor market (The original tented market was part of the MI hence my MI logo).
In Wootten Bassett, the Lime Kiln is a similar impressive red brick/stone building turned into an smaller exhibition centre.

Many of these type of companies are interested in buildings like MI but no one is going to take anyone who doesn't own the building seriously.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 26, 2013, 08:21:47 AM
This is all still just pie-in-the-sky.

I'm sure we could all come up with lists of potentially viable ideas for its use. BUT as none of us are millionaires prepared to speculate and risk lose millions, this particular piece of pie and local sky remain resolutely separate things.

Comparisons with the outlet village are a bit daft tbh - for whilst its a good example of a successful re-use of a historical building, there's virtually no similarity with the far more complex situation faced by The mechanics: The outlet is a purely commercial enterprise, right from the off. It is surrounded by parking. The businesses involved there sell things, pure and simple. It is not subject to the waning popularity or tiny margins involved with things like theatre, libraries, galleries etc - things which are ALREADY subject to threat.

The only hope for the mechanics is to be in receipt of major heritage lottery funding - and then to have a council prepared to populate and organise much of the internal tennants, as per the Wyvern.

THAT would be my solution: The Wyvern's lifespan is now limited to a mere few years, due to the state of the decaying concrete. Use the Mechanics to replace the Wyvern complex (and all of the associated businesses located within it) and include a gallery - maybe offer a section to the Richard Jeffries crew etc - create a real quorum of cultural offerings which will see the place evolve as a creative crucible, a mixture of commercial and socially beneficial groups.

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 26, 2013, 08:39:03 AM
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.
It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

 the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...

No no no - that's virtually what the trust wanted. The main reason they were unable to deliver is that no-one who held the purse strings believed their plan was commercially viable.

Look public ownership is a lovely idea BUT unless the sums add up you are still bleating the same old nonsense that NMIPT were bleating.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 26, 2013, 08:43:38 AM
Many of these type of companies are interested in buildings like MI but no one is going to take anyone who doesn't own the building seriously.

Not true - the richest person I've ever met started out with nothing. Just a plan that would make money provided someone lent him money in the first place.

Come up with the idea and the rest is simple.

That after all is pretty much what Singh was doing. Virtually all the money that has been lost on the MI is borrowed. Had he got his planning the town would have lost an eyesore and he would have trousered a tidy wedge.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 26, 2013, 08:50:55 AM
No, no, no,  again , the Trust is a charitable company - in effect wholly a charity, the company is irrelevant, it just protects the trustees, it does not allow them to trade.

They did not own the building, however good their plan was or was not, they could not have raised the money to do it themselves.

If it was a viable plan to make money etc, they could only have persuaded some else to do it.

Without a lease, or purchase, no charitable 'money giving' trust could have donated it to them. 


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 26, 2013, 12:16:57 PM
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.
It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

 the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...

No no no - that's virtually what the trust wanted. The main reason they were unable to deliver is that no-one who held the purse strings believed their plan was commercially viable.

Look public ownership is a lovely idea BUT unless the sums add up you are still bleating the same old nonsense that NMIPT were bleating.

Oldest theatre in the UK?  Isn't that the Theatre Royal which dates back to the 18th century?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 26, 2013, 01:23:41 PM
No, no, no,  again , the Trust is a charitable company - in effect wholly a charity, the company is irrelevant, it just protects the trustees, it does not allow them to trade.

They did not own the building, however good their plan was or was not, they could not have raised the money to do it themselves.

If it was a viable plan to make money etc, they could only have persuaded some else to do it.

Without a lease, or purchase, no charitable 'money giving' trust could have donated it to them.

I fail to get your point here.

Of course they didn't own the building - nor had they any hope of ever owning the building.

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.

That's why the trust are forever damned. All they ever did was bleat about what they would like to see - they never came up with any sort of business plan that could have sustained the building.

Their main idea centred on a theatre (which Swindon doesn't need and it's looking like are going to have to subsidise the Arts Centre anyway) and a cafe, which is never going to produce serious revenue at that location.

I would guess that somewhere between 50 and 75% of the cost of the refurb could be grant funded.

The problem is therfore simple - come up with a business plan that can generate enough cash to run the building and service the rest of the capitaal cost and you would be surprised hoow easily it can be made a reality.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: moley on November 26, 2013, 08:45:55 PM

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.

Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 26, 2013, 09:17:00 PM

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.

Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on November 26, 2013, 11:57:20 PM

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.


So why did HSBC write off 2 £500k loans as bad debt? 
If they did it just to be kind, then they would have a hard time claiming any money back from insurance.

Singh said he paid 500+k but he borrowed 1m. 
Did he spend 500k on the MI?

How many people do you know who will bid 500k?
None.  In 2001-2002 there were no bids what so ever (except mine for £1000).
It was only after SBC started an Urgent Repairs notice that Mountmead had a buyer.


I believe the MI was officially valued back in 1999/2000 as worth £1 due to the state of the building.
As land it is worthless as you can't demolish the building.

If the TSOL get a new valuation and it says something similar who would pay 500k?

SBC could actually already have have asked TSOL to sell it or sign it over due to the outstanding charge.
SBC know there are no buyers interested and if it went to auction and didn't sell their only option would be to claim ownership as payment of the debt.
But they haven't as they don't want to due to the liabilities of a council owning a building like that.
No one told TSOL about the building until I notified them.

If SBC let the TSOL claim the building,  then the SBC charge will go as the TSOL accepts no liabilities.
The minimum bid needed to make a building claim worthy in the eyes of the TSOL is £1000 + 5-600 in costs.
The TSOL will value the building, auction it or offer it for sale at the highest price possible which could be the minimum bid if no one shows any interest.

When the TSOL start it should only take 3 months before the building is for sale again or sold for the highest offer.


As for parking, people should read the Felden and Clegg? report paid for by SBC in 2002?
It shows there is parking on both sides and the 'tunnel' puts the MI in the centre of a 'natural' path from the Outlet Centre to the Town/Brunel Centre.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 27, 2013, 12:58:25 AM
Quote
Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

 :idiot2:

A good percentage of people wanting to visit a theatre are going to be put off by being expected to walk even a mere 5 minutes of Chavopolis and its drunken denizens, as per the drive of other threads.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on November 27, 2013, 08:39:30 AM
Not only that, if I was paying a wadge to stay overnight in an hotel, I wouldn't want to pay another wadge to park the car that far away - even if i could get in one of the car parks.

Are the car parks locked overnight too?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on November 27, 2013, 08:44:16 AM

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.


So why did HSBC write off 2 £500k loans as bad debt? 
If they did it just to be kind, then they would have a hard time claiming any money back from insurance.

Singh said he paid 500+k but he borrowed 1m. 

Did he spend 500k on the MI?


If HSBC lent Singh £1mill then they had someone value the property for that.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 27, 2013, 11:21:51 AM
Quote
Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

 :idiot2:

A good percentage of people wanting to visit a theatre are going to be put off by being expected to walk even a mere 5 minutes of Chavopolis and its drunken denizens, as per the drive of other threads.

So are they going to be any more enthusiastic about walking from Garry's new £15m Christmas Tree lit Car Park near Whalebridge to get to the Wyvern then Tobes?   On the basis of your argument they will not!!

I would suggest that it would appear the good people in the Trust do not understand or want to understand the way in which business works and how to deal with any form of fundraising or they would have done it and already have it in hand!

Unless there is someone or something actually addressing these issues it is now very important that the Trust step aside and let someone who actually understands these very important aspects and can actually put a Plan together which is both Costed in detail, Viable and Achievable.

The Trust has had more than enough time to formulate how they are going to 'make it happen' and from where I am sitting they show absolutely no potential for 'delivering the goods', and The Mechanics' will continue to rot until such time as the budget cuts demand the removal of any form of cost to the Council Tax Paying Public of Swindon.  After all the Administration is seeking £15m worth of savings from next year's budget.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 27, 2013, 06:34:44 PM
Quote
So are they going to be any more enthusiastic about walking from Garry's new £15m Christmas Tree lit Car Park near Whalebridge to get to the Wyvern then Tobes?   On the basis of your argument they will not!!

Lets see! I suspect it will have a negative effect on a section of potential Wyvern customers. Mind you, the truth which dare not speak its name is that the Wyvern is increasingly decrepit and is suffering from serious decay and degradation of its concrete. 'A few years' is the maximum lifespan I've heard touted. Quite how true it is I guess depends on who's promoting the next stage of regeneration - but who will be 'surprised or amazed' to find out that whatever building replaces the old Wyvern will be built near Garry's new Car Park...?  ::)

I also agree with you about The Trust. There's no doubting their passion about preserving the building and they've been excellent at keeping the issue in the public eye. But you are right to point out that raising finance and coming up with a truly viable commercial plan to ensure its continued safety is not their forte.

Quote
The Trust has had more than enough time to formulate how they are going to 'make it happen' and from where I am sitting they show absolutely no potential for 'delivering the goods', and The Mechanics' will continue to rot until such time as the budget cuts demand the removal of any form of cost to the Council Tax Paying Public of Swindon.  After all the Administration is seeking £15m worth of savings from next year's budget.

That is indeed an entirely reasonable concern.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: moley on November 27, 2013, 10:05:44 PM
Quote
Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

 :idiot2:

A good percentage of people wanting to visit a theatre are going to be put off by being expected to walk even a mere 5 minutes of Chavopolis and its drunken denizens, as per the drive of other threads.

But to get from Car Parks to theatre in Bristol or Bath is at least as far as Brunel to Mechanics... and you don't really have to go through the heart of Chavopolis to get between them.

I went to see a band at the Newport Centre a couple of weeks ago, and that was probably a significantly worse experience than I've ever had in Swindon... (had to persuade a couple of pissed up locals to get back out of my car again whilst queuing to get out of the car park..)

Moley
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 27, 2013, 10:46:15 PM
... but the Mechanics 'solution' what ever it is, isn't about it simply being a theatre or music venue, is it?

Businesses or ventures onsite are going to require significant amounts of parking for their staff alone, even ignoring their customers.

Of course people can be made to walk - but the whole issue here is about making the mechanics a VIABLE ALTERNATIVE to the numerous other alternative venues with purpose built parking which any one of the potential preferred tenant users could walk into (for probably a fraction of the price).

In that scenario, things like parking matter a lot.

On another thread, we have people stating clearly that out of town shopping and cinema thrives because of the simplicity and convenience of siting what's on offer right next door to the means of transport (whilst avoiding the ugliest bits of town into the bargain). That model makes perfect sense in that setting and is one of the reason people give as to why they find shopping in the town centre an increasingly less attractive proposition.

Why would the Mechanics scenario be any different...?  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: moley on November 27, 2013, 11:06:20 PM
agree with that...

on the other hand the idea mentioned in this thread of relocating the theatre to the Mechanics was the best idea I've heard for it and at least would be a great start to finding a viable use for the place.

I worked in the centre of Bath for 4 years, and parking was pretty limited at the offices I was working in.. but again (like the Mechanics) at least the offices were close to the railway station. 

Moley
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on November 27, 2013, 11:25:06 PM
Quote
on the other hand the idea mentioned in this thread of relocating the theatre to the Mechanics was the best idea I've heard for it and at least would be a great start to finding a viable use for the place.

I worked in the centre of Bath for 4 years, and parking was pretty limited at the offices I was working in.. but again (like the Mechanics) at least the offices were close to the railway station. 

Yup - I'd definitely agree with that. Replacing the Wyvern and taking the theatre back to its spiritual home in Swindon would be a bold, popular and intelligent move - and probably only viable core to finding a future use for the building anything like that of its original intended purpose.

Sadly, I suspect 'Garry's Car Park' is an investment which absolutely requires a nearby theatre to justify its otherwise rather white elephant status.

It may therefore have indirectly doomed The Mechanics. But lets hope otherwise and continue to pray to the twin gods of Lottery and Philanthropy that something finally happens to inject a bit of pride back into this town.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on November 28, 2013, 09:00:56 AM
On another thread, we have people stating clearly that out of town shopping and cinema thrives because of the simplicity and convenience of siting what's on offer right next door to the means of transport (whilst avoiding the ugliest bits of town into the bargain). That model makes perfect sense in that setting and is one of the reason people give as to why they find shopping in the town centre an increasingly less attractive proposition.

Sadly, I suspect 'Garry's Car Park' is an investment which absolutely requires a nearby theatre to justify its otherwise rather white elephant status.

I am glad we are in agreement on this topic Tobes, but what do you think will happen in the Christmas rush with the siting of Garry's new £15m Car Park?

Is it significant that the so called 'traffic experts' have placed traffic counters on Gordon Road and Beckhampton Street?  At a time when the Administration is seeking cuts of £15m, please note the figure, that Garry's new Car Park is lit up like a Christmas Tree, but remains unused. 

I predict traffic chaos around this whole area over Christmas which result in people driving away from Swindon not to its Town Centre.

With apologies for the digression from topic!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 13, 2014, 01:28:07 PM
The rumour mill is that the Mechanics has been offered to SBC at a very low price - the problem is that in accepting it they will have to 'do something with it' and while i hate to admit it, the only organisation people with a semblance of a plan is the Mechanics Trust.

I love the idea that the MI could be considered the towns theatre's 'spiritual home' (well done Tobes) but is it really? I would consider the Empire to have been the real home of thetare in Swindon but alas it is no more.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 13, 2014, 10:17:49 PM
Rumors..  very descriptive as SBC need only request ownership as they are the only and main creditor.

Why they haven't done so in the year since Forefront Estates ltd was dissolved is anybody's guess.

Me, I don't think they want it and are content if it falls into Limbo again.

They got burned with the "hasty" "rubbish" Urgent Repairs which EH didn't like.
That cost £1.2m and they spent err wasted more money going after bad 'debt'.

I have asked SBC via email if they have any plans and got

"We have got to the stage where we are preparing a business case for funding to carry out a detailed options appraisal of The Mechanics.......  "

So yet another expensive 'option' report like the  last one that they totally ignored.


TSOL will probably put it up for auction in couple of months.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Mickraker on January 13, 2014, 10:29:48 PM
Can Swindon council afford to acquire it and what will it do to the council tax if they do  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 13, 2014, 10:53:40 PM
What about a permanent home for Luke's museum?
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8871518.Luke_Skywalker_s_exhibition_is_huge_success/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/8871518.Luke_Skywalker_s_exhibition_is_huge_success/)

It's been in storage, should be on show.

Maybe 2nd Church of the Jedi?  1st church is in Angelsey.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 14, 2014, 10:35:19 AM
Quote
Can Swindon council afford to acquire it and what will it do to the council tax if they do

In short the answer must be a resounding 'No'

They have £18millions of Sect 106 money squirrelled away but they can't use it to refurbish the MI.

In reality, whilst there is a body of opinion which wants to 'save the MI' there is an equal one which 'cares not a jot' what happens to it.

Now I know the die hard ex GWR and anyone who can claim an iota of connectivity with the GWR will hyper ventilate at such a comment, but it is true.

I have lived in Swindon for 60 years and was one of last people (yes i was very young boy) to sing at the MI -  I remember Keith Hardy and Vera Bennett were the stars - but I have to confess the costs associated with restoration at anything north of £10m would be too much to pay for what is a vanity project. I would rather the council sold the footprint and put the money towards a new concert hall
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on January 14, 2014, 05:40:49 PM
Totally agree Des. 

Since 1987 when the works close the population of the town has grown from around 140,000 to around 190,000.  Most of these additional 50,000 have no connection whatsoever to the railway works, family members didn't work there and they probably don't know anyone who did.  As time goes on the number of people who don't care about the history of the MI will grow - they might want to preserve the building but will have no interest in any specific use for it (they might even be overjoyed if it became a massive Wetherspoons pub).

Now if the Mechanics Trust had been even 10% as successful as the Wilts air ambulance at raising money http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-25635353 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-25635353) they'd be bringing in around £200,000 a year.  This is a very crude calculation I know, but if they'd done that they'd now be sitting on a pot of £5million with which to purchase and begin work on the MI (excuses about ownership aren't really relevant, a charity can raise money from the public to try and buy a derelict  building).
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 14, 2014, 07:26:46 PM
I find it rather depressing that people feel forgotten heritage should be forgotten even  further.

That it should be forgotten because of past neglect

It's pretty crass to suggest that the roots of a town should be lost just because outsiders are arriving en-masse.

I don't see it as a mere vanity project either.

People travel from other towns to visit The Outlet because it is an interesting environment.
The Mechanics' could provide a vital combination of retail, culture, and interest to draw those same visitors into the town centre.
A vital link for future trade.

Many years ago The Mechanics' played a major part in saving Swindon.

Some careful planning could see a repeat performance and a much needed improvement to Swindons' image

When Coate is no longer the gateway to the countryside,
When the speedway is gone
When Wiltshire council further utilise / dump on the north Swindon boundary
Swindon will be desperate for some unique heritage it can be proud of amidst its dumping ground reputation
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on January 14, 2014, 09:15:01 PM
In replying to some of the points raised I am not trying to excuse anything just describe where we are as made known to me.

The previous submission on turning the MI was not ignored, it was not accepted as the right answer for its Heritage context. A submission for an alternative site  at the Hawthorns has been made.

The Heritage context is vital to the solution and the star status for the building refers to the previous use of the building. Any future proposals have to bear this in mine.

The MI Trust are the only Trust of their kind in the Town and have produced a potential design for the MI. They have been a contributing voice and kept the MI on the agenda in much the same way as TalkSwindon.

Opportunity, offers and interest are not of their own sufficient. Future use, fit with other local needs, future intended activity and available money freed for investment also need to be considered or be ready for development.

My limited previous experience concerning the old Railway Museum which has morphed a number of times informs me what is promised is not necessarily what is delivered or what evolves. Caution is needed but not inactivity. The problems with the MI is now affecting Highway decisions and the development of the new UTC.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 14, 2014, 09:42:48 PM
Quote
I find it rather depressing that people feel forgotten heritage should be forgotten even  further.

The MI has never ever been forgotten - it's simply not quite the important heritage site some think it is

Quote
It's pretty crass to suggest that the roots of a town should be lost just because outsiders are arriving en-masse.

But 'incomers' do not have any idea as to the historical context of the MI - in fact many would se more genuine historical value in the GWR Hospital which is disregarded by many historians.

Quote
I don't see it as a mere vanity project either.


That's a fair view.

Quote
People travel from other towns to visit The Outlet because it is an interesting environment.
The Mechanics' could provide a vital combination of retail, culture, and interest to draw those same visitors into the town centre.

Except the MI isn't in the town centre. It actually forms a barrier between the Outlet and the town centre

Quote
Many years ago The Mechanics' played a major part in saving Swindon.

Please forgive my cynicism - but please do tell me how!

Quote
Some careful planning could see a repeat performance and a much needed improvement to Swindons' image

If I had a pound for every time I heard about what would improve the town's image I would be wealthy. A restored MI would not bring a single pound of investment into Swindon beyond the workers wages for those who restore it

Quote
When the speedway is gone

Now you are grasping at straws.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 15, 2014, 02:08:54 AM
Back in 2000-2202, SBC paid ~£15k  a consultant surveying firm "Felden Clegg" for a report on the MI its state of repair, and future uses.

It concluded that the MI was 'in the centre of Swindon' and was on a natural path from the Outlet, NM, EH to the Brunel Centre and Swindon Centre.

Of course SBC were not been trying to herd people to Whalebridge and the big Hotel with all the cash in those days.

The tunnel behind the MI and the Railway Village itself are supposed to be part of a Heritage area and a potential turist attraction.
The people that go to the Outlet Village are mostly from outside Swindon and could be enticed into walking to Swindon Center if there were things to see.

I think the MI could be restored slowly but surely just by turning the 'light back' on.
The south part isn't too far off being usable for community events or perhaps a place for Luke's museaum.
It could be Swindon's 'Camden Market'.

There have been a few markets in Swindon over the years, why not a French Market in the South part of the MI every  1st Sunday in a Month.  :froggy:
People visiting the Outlet, NMR or EH might just walk thru the tunnel for it. And people visitting Town might walk thru the Brunel centre.
Felden & Clegg thought they might.
To be honest just want to use the new smilie..  :P

People seem to forget it was new Swindon's first market and also housed the first Council, the first Library, bowling hall, etc.
It was a dance hall too.. even mentioned in a song by the Swindon band XTC.
http://www.lyrics.net/lyric/5448788 (http://www.lyrics.net/lyric/5448788)  See "meccanic dancing"

XTC - Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!).wmv (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7WUNKUcEfM#)


but people don't seem to want anything associated with noise.

Bob Wright mentioned the UTC and traffic problems..
Probably new excuses that are going to be used for all sorts.

The traffic problems are SBC's making with the botched Urgent repairs.
The UTC could be something that perhaps brings investment to the MI.
The North bit of the MI could be made in Student accommodation together with the Barracks being used in its original role.
All a student needs, is a long room with sink, hotplate, desk sofa bed and communal showers, kitchen.
Plenty of unused rooms just like that in the Barracks (old Railway Museaum).

K

Turn on the Light. (http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIDEEA.jpg)


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 15, 2014, 09:58:31 AM
The thing that is starting to concern me is that a number of Swindon born people with whom I have discussed this subject have now given up any hope of ever seeing it restored and are even talking about knocking it down and using the site for something else! 

Unless someone shows some serious intent, and I don't mean the Council this building is sadly already lost

and I really wish it were otherwise.

The time for talking is now sadly passed, some serious pro activity is the only way forward or the call to save the Council costs will overtake any 'desire' to save it.

Have you had an answer to your FOI yet T?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 15, 2014, 10:01:21 AM
Quote
Except the MI isn't in the town centre. It actually forms a barrier between the Outlet and the town centre
That's the point.
It is in the centre and between town and The Outlet.

Karsten has answered the point in detail , but basically used as a sheltered corridor, a few small shops, and a "story of Swindon", it would provide a link.
Not a barrier
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on January 15, 2014, 11:06:14 AM
I'm a half-way house between ICDT and Des... I do think that what ever solution allows (if ever) the mechanics to be saved, it'll only be after a huge dose of commercial reality and some proper compromises on all sides to end up with a viable, realistic conclusion to this long and sorry saga.

But that said, The Mechanics is undeniably one of the (if not the) most impressive signature buildings in the town - and as the focal point of the railway development both architecturally and socially, to deny or attempt to downplay its significance looks and sounds either stupid or an attempt to exonerate the kinds of planning decisions which have given us a town which would easily win 'ugliest of the south west' in any public poll.

The argument about its insignificance to recent incomers to the town is about as feather-weight as one could conceive, surely? Try and make the same argument for failing to preserve The Crescent in Bath. The Crescent may be of national significance - but I'd argue, given the paucity of quality architecture with social history attached in Swindon, the value of the Mechanics to the town is, if anything, even greater.

Why? Because of this towns ever deeper commitment to accepting homogeneous growth, regardless of consequences. Its an exponential relationship: A town with a reputation for being culturally and socially 'low rent' misses quality investment and becomes a purely functional place: That means somewhere to sleep and work, NOT somewhere to socialise, shop and participate in activities - or somewhere simply to enjoy the local environment. That shapes the perceptions of the people who live there - and those who disagree or see better opportunities elsewhere gradually move away. They tend to be the people who resist further 'low rent' development - and therefore the process speeds up. In turn, its further accelerated by the town increasingly attracting incomers who simply don't care one way or the other: the town becomes a place to work and sleep... not necessarily somewhere to live - and certainly not somewhere to bring up families and put down long-term roots.

Swindons historic strengths have been its high employment and relatively affordable housing, its parks,its transport links and its vicinity to local countryside and. But now we have identikit estates stretching ever further on all boundaries, a railnetwork which is as expensive in real terms now as it was 100 years ago (and no faster to boot). Buildings designed by Victorians to last for generations have almost (but not quite) been replaced by purely functional, short term buildings which quickly look shabby and dated. We have a town which was once a respected centre of industry which is now a scorned conurb - a sort of 'town of last resort' in the eyes of many: A place in which people live because of their employment or because they can't really afford to live elsewhere. Really truly loyal residents who live here because they choose to are an ever rarer - and frequently ageing - find.

The things which keep people here ought not be mocked - things like the Speedway are actually a pretty good example of the small examples of things which make the town more interesting. Every chip and cut at those aspects removes another reason for another creative or aspiring person to stay here; be that the once excellent town gardens now over-grown or vandalised because the gates are no longer closed at the end of the day, the litter from uncollected recycling, heritage buildings demolished and replaced by either acres of empty ground or cheaply built developments. Even if its only a matter of effecting the choices of a few percent a year who chose to invest their money somewhere else other than Swindon, the cumulative effects are huge, undeniable and highly corrosive.

Its already happened.

Should we just roll over and let the process completely destroy the last elements which remind us of a prouder past? Or should we aspire to something better?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on January 15, 2014, 11:19:34 AM
Richard, the date for the FOI has now been put back to the 29th of Jan, so have to wait,
likewise I asked my labour councillor about the police precept rises, but no answer, they are there when photos to be taken but not when you ask them to do their job... and they have the cheek to raise the point about allowances.... :WTF:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on January 15, 2014, 11:41:33 AM
The UTC / a university is probably the type of organisation that could realistically use the MI as it originally was - library, lecture theatre, common rooms, refectory...  In some more successful towns and cities  their MI's became universities, the nearest example being Cheltenham, meanwhile Swindon is the largest UK town without a university http://lovemytown.co.uk/Universities/UniversitiesTable2.asp (http://lovemytown.co.uk/Universities/UniversitiesTable2.asp)  once again Swindon is number 1 at being crap!

However, would the Mechanics Trust be happy with that because it wouldn't actually be a public use building?  School/college/university buildings aren't really classed as being public buildings, as they don't want random members of the public wandering around - especially a UTC that has under-16's on-site. Their rooms might be hired for events but that is no different to what a hotel would do.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 15, 2014, 01:08:45 PM
Quote
The things which keep people here ought not be mocked - things like the Speedway are actually a pretty good example of the small examples of things which make the town more interesting.

Hi Tobes - I was being a tad 'cynical' in my comment about the speedway, but honestly what does speedway bring to the town? I loved watching stock car racing at Blunsdon but that's long gone with no detrimental effect on the town. I fancy the same applies to football - I recall the days when corporation busses lined County Road having brought tens of thousands of supporters to watch the 'Town' - average gates of 7,500 are hardly likely to make a huge difference to the commercial import of the town.

Ah the famous Felden Clegg report - again forgive me for being a sceptic but what did anyone expect from the report. To imagine the MI as being in the centre of town requires a stretch of the imagination but I will accept it could be. I do accept the need to develop a clearly defined route from the Outlet into the town centre BUT after spending money in the Outlet what inducement is there for anyone to travel from North to South and visit Swindon's town centre? I suppose the corrugated water feature - which isn't a water fetaure at all (given the absence of any water) - the numerous art works hidden round street corners or the new library which while considerably better than its predecessor is still not a stunning experience.

The MI is a lovely building BUT is it any better as an example of architecture than the Old College in Victoria Road?

The 'thing' which makes the MI different is its context with regard to the railways. A point recognised by the 'star' awarded by EH.

Like Richard, I hope the MI can be 'saved' but I repeat my original concern - saved as what and for what.

What we are likely to see is yet another consultant being employed to tell the council what it should do with the MI

Quote
Should we just roll over and let the process completely destroy the last elements which remind us of a prouder past? Or should we aspire to something better?


Tobes - didn't the Edwardians demolish much of what the Victorian built in order to demonstrate the superiority of their architecture and to display their aspiration for something better and didn't the Edwardians destroy many Georgian and Regency building s for like purpose?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on January 15, 2014, 01:22:33 PM
I'm a half-way house between ICDT and Des... I do think that what ever solution allows (if ever) the mechanics to be saved, it'll only be after a huge dose of commercial reality and some proper compromises on all sides to end up with a viable, realistic conclusion to this long and sorry saga.


I don't think it is compromise on both sides Tobes, I don't even think there are two sides. ICDT is way off the mark - a great idea maybe, but sadly I have more chance of being the next emperor of China than that has of becoming reality.

There is only ONE choice - let the private sector develop the place. This argument has been going on for as long as I've known Swindon but no-one has come up with a solution that is financially viable.

Still if people keep rambling on with unrealistic ideas then the place will fall down of it's own accord.

That said I do agree with the rest of your plea.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on January 15, 2014, 03:17:09 PM
I went to Camden Lock in the 80's and have been in 00's.

It was bought for hardly anything by 3 friends via a limited company.
20 yrs on it went from worthless to a place to visit and an important part of Camden putting Camden on the Big map.
Most foreigners visitting the UK know about Camden Market.. 

From http://www.camdenlockmarket.com/about/history/ (http://www.camdenlockmarket.com/about/history/)

The Camden Lock you see today was once T.E. Dingwalls timber yard. Timber was unloaded from large river barges to the smaller narrow boats that plied the inland canals of Britain. As more efficient forms of transport grew the canals began to decline, and the site closed in 1971 signalling the end of an era, but the beginning of another.

In 1973 Camden Lock was opened by Northside Developments Ltd as the original arts and crafts market; a makeshift collective of workshops and traders set against a rich industrial heritage. The early development revolved simply around the old wooden sheds and cobbled yards. As the first Market in Camden, it immediately stood out from London’s other markets for its eclectic mix, and soon attracted the vital group of entrepreneurs and artists that first generated the Camden Town ‘buzz’.

For young artists, the Lock studios offered a new opportunity to rent a space where they could sell their work, and for customers the chance to see their goods being made – a rare thing in modern London. Goods are still designed and made on-site today and studios are open to the customers.

During the 1980s Camden Lock’s vitality began to spread. Shops up to Camden Town Tube Station, which were previously let at peppercorn rents, began to become very desirable.

Camden Lock didn’t stand still either. 1991 saw the opening of the Market Hall, a glass-roofed arcade designed to merge with the surrounding Victorian architecture that met with high praise from the architectural press. In 1999 the Market Hall was extended, and in 2003 the East Yard was covered with a Victorian-styled steel and glass canopy. Also in 2003 the West Yard wharf, one of the original areas first redeveloped in the 1970s was further opened up and refurbished, and the first floor walkway extended to form a terrace overlooking the wharf.

Today Camden Lock stays true to its original principles and attracts both Londoners and visitors from all parts of the globe, eager to come face-to-face with some of the capital’s most creative people.



--------------
Another interesting note is how many Jedi are there.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9737886/Jedi-religion-most-popular-alternative-faith.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9737886/Jedi-religion-most-popular-alternative-faith.html)

Remember Luke Skywalker lives in Swindon and works not far from MI.

I think Jedi Church, interesting is.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 15, 2014, 06:29:17 PM
Yes Camden is Camden and Swindon is Swindon and this has been going on since 1986, hasn't it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 15, 2014, 07:31:45 PM
Quote
I don't think it is compromise on both sides Tobes, I don't even think there are two sides. ICDT is way off the mark - a great idea maybe, but sadly I have more chance of being the next emperor of China than that has of becoming reality.

I fail to see how a mixed use of retail, public centre, trade, link to town centre, etc is any more "way off the mark" than trying to find an individual business venture.

Quote
We have a town which was once a respected centre of industry which is now a scorned conurb - a sort of 'town of last resort' in the eyes of many: A place in which people live because of their employment or because they can't really afford to live elsewhere. Really truly loyal residents who live here because they choose to are an ever rarer - and frequently ageing - find.

That's why I 'm getting out of this crap hole.

Attempting to defend the town's image is totally pointless.

Easier to move somewhere much nicer
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on January 15, 2014, 07:54:54 PM
Quote
I don't think it is compromise on both sides Tobes, I don't even think there are two sides. ICDT is way off the mark - a great idea maybe, but sadly I have more chance of being the next emperor of China than that has of becoming reality.

I fail to see how a mixed use of retail, public centre, trade, link to town centre, etc is any more "way off the mark" than trying to find an individual business venture.

Simply it is not a good place for retail - there is plenty of that in Swindon.

Talk of a link to the town is fanciful nonsense, the whole of the area is listed.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on January 15, 2014, 08:28:31 PM
Quote
The things which keep people here ought not be mocked - things like the Speedway are actually a pretty good example of the small examples of things which make the town more interesting.

Hi Tobes - I was being a tad 'cynical' in my comment about the speedway, but honestly what does speedway bring to the town? I loved watching stock car racing at Blunsdon but that's long gone with no detrimental effect on the town. I fancy the same applies to football - I recall the days when corporation busses lined County Road having brought tens of thousands of supporters to watch the 'Town' - average gates of 7,500 are hardly likely to make a huge difference to the commercial import of the town.


I think Tobes point is that these small things make the town more interesting. The football club, speedway, theatre, ice rink, golf courses probably don't bring much revenue to the town, but these things give the town an identity or soul. Without them Swindon would just be a bunch of non-descript identikit houses.

Lydiard Park, Coate Water etc don't generate much income, but they make the town a better place to live.

I recall reading one of Bill Bryson's books years ago. Having lived in the UK for several years he returned to his native US and was disappointed by what he found. He remembered the old US diners with individual character and menus. When he returned they had been replaced by large corporate chains, KFC, McDonalds, Denny's etc. He found that every small town had become identical.

The little things give the town character and make it unique.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on January 15, 2014, 09:02:00 PM
Lydiard Park, Coate Water etc don't generate much income, but they make the town a better place to live.

They may not produce much income but if I understand the latest proposals correctly they are about to be privatized and will as a consequence produce no income at all and we lose control of their usage to boot!!

Flies in the face of everything Bluh and Edwards claimed as an excuse for Wi-fi when they said they had to look outside the box for additional income to Council Tax.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on January 15, 2014, 09:11:41 PM
Quote
Simply it is not a good place for retail - there is plenty of that in Swindon.

Talk of a link to the town is fanciful nonsense, the whole of the area is listed.

If having plenty of retail in Swindon is a problem then the whole place is doomed.

If the area being listed is a showstopper, then a mixed use public operation is still no more "fanciful nonsense" than selling off the heritage to a fat cat hotel business.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on January 15, 2014, 09:26:48 PM
Yes Camden is Camden and Swindon is Swindon and this has been going on since 1986, hasn't it?

Swindon, at times, seems to be very good at hand wringing, and the Mechanics Trust is a pretty good example.  If they had gone about raising money with which to acquire the MI they might possibly have had the £500,000 that Mr Singh paid for the MI in 2003.  It's all well and good getting a * listed status, but that has consequences - as the saying goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", actually I think "hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works" is more appropriate.

I wonder what the founders of the MI would think of the Mechanics Trust who seem to want someone to give them the MI for nothing and then for someone else to pay for it to restored?  What would they think of the generations of Swindonians who didn't  build upon their efforts (largest town without a university is nothing to be proud of)?


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on January 16, 2014, 08:23:37 AM
Quote
I think Tobes point is that these small things make the town more interesting. The football club, speedway, theatre, ice rink, golf courses probably don't bring much revenue to the town, but these things give the town an identity or soul. Without them Swindon would just be a bunch of non-descript identikit houses.

Lydiard Park, Coate Water etc don't generate much income, but they make the town a better place to live.

I recall reading one of Bill Bryson's books years ago. Having lived in the UK for several years he returned to his native US and was disappointed by what he found. He remembered the old US diners with individual character and menus. When he returned they had been replaced by large corporate chains, KFC, McDonalds, Denny's etc. He found that every small town had become identical.

The little things give the town character and make it unique.

Absolutely smack on:

They are the things which, if it were any other form of consumer product, would be called it's 'brand'. They are the things which provide the balance in the list of elements which shape people's perception. On the plus side of the ledger, we have functional things like perceived high employment, cheap housing, closeness to countryside, good transport links - but these also extend into the more esoteric such as having a theatre (even if most of what it puts on is distinctly mediocre, it does still host nationally known comedians), and Arts Centre, a football club (even if you don't follow football, outsiders will be aware of Swindon's name purely through football results on the national news), Speedway (also reported on regional and occasionally national sports news), interesting, unique or beautiful buildings etc etc. They in part help offset the easy to perceive debit ledger for Swindon's brand: the perceived ugliness which is regularly commented upon, the concrete 60s buildings in decay, the jokes cracked by commentators and comedians in the press, scandals caused by civic figures and local politicians, the endless drip-feed of negative stories such as the loss of heritage, expansion of estates without commensurate infrastructure investment, loss of jobs etc.

You can do the exercise for yourself. Write a list of good things about Swindon. Write a list of bad. Get someone else to do it as well. Compare. You'll soon see that the things to which people ascribe little direct financial value, actually have a value to Swindon's brand out of all proportion to either their cost or direct revenue. Consider what aspects of a town's brand influence who'd live or invest there. Consider how that influence in turn alters the demographic make-up and character of a town's population.

This is a basic fact which our self-elected business and planning moguls continually fail to grasp, because like most minions of the concept of high capitalism, they don't have the emotional intelligence to understand that important things get missed off of the balance sheet if you treat an organic community like a financial accounting exercise.

There was a discussion down the pub the other day as to the collective attitude of far too many local politicians and businessmen to the type of development and investment we get in this town at the moment. Someone rudely and graphically mimed it thus: Bending forwards at the waist and grasping his knees, he gave a grimmace and said 'Thanks! And please wipe your **** on the curtain on the way out'.

I can't argue with that widespread perception. I can't think of another town in which so many good and hardworking people so regularly and openly express the feeling that their town is in overall cultural decline (whatever the latest press release about Regents Circus made in the Adver.) The reasons why they feel that way are writ large in the form of empty but once beautiful buildings like The Mechanics and The Locarno and the waning of the parks, open spaces, and community cultural pursuits ranging from Coate to the Arts Centre. If things like the speedway close and aren't replaced, we've just taken a step further into turning Swindon into an anonymous purely functional collection of concrete boxes alongside a motorway and a railtrack.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Whipling on January 22, 2014, 02:31:25 PM
Quote
Consider what aspects of a town's brand influence who'd live or invest there. Consider how that influence in turn alters the demographic make-up and character of a town's population.

Christmas was an interesting one this year, as it was largely spent as a foursome with my friend, and our girlfriends--respectively American and Spanish. As such, we were on host duty, and in return we got to see our hometown through their eyes: It's bleak. We're from a bleak, bleak identikit town. Vapid and commericalised. Bolt on estates. Cheap and temporary. Glass and sales signs.

We made a list (it didn't take long) of the things that were worth redemption from the bulldozer, of the things that probably couldn't be replaced by something better, without losing its soul:

Lydiard. Coate. Queen's Park. Town Gardens. Beehive. Gluepot. Steam Railway. Los Gatos. Outlet.  Cycle path network. Railway Village.

I think the thing we most noticed most, heightened by a whiplash tour of the Southwest, was how little personality the town had, how functional everything was. Obviously the money has been sucked out of the town recently, and for sure that creates an atmosphere, but that's no excuse. Heading to the missus' hometown in Valencia, there's derelict building estates everywhere, empty shops, people with nothing to do--but everything that makes her small town individual is devotedly kept up. The oldest buildings are scrubbed and restored. The annual festivals dutifully attended. The bars individualised with bric a brac. The graffiti aren't tags or scribbles, but politicised and genuinely funny (--at least I guess, my Spanish is still muchos mal.)

There's really not a lot of idiosyncrasy or humour or flourish or design in Swindon. You really notice the lack of stimulated people. I think the lack of a university has really capped this town's potential. Swindon's a depressed town in that it consistently lowers the bar for it to trip over. It's timid in its ambitions, turning to conservative tried and trusted answers: more off the shelf housing. More drive-to chain stores. It's as its morbidly accepted its role as an insipid national punching bag.

The Mechanics is just a building. It's imposing but not overly beautiful. Muddled in acrimonious politics and a ladled money pit. But when I started telling the story of how it came about, who built it, what it was used for, the American in particular got quite upset that something like that had been forgotten. I think most people are. And that's what I think people are banking on, when they push for its rebuild. That it'd mark a cultural yardstick. It was originally built as a place of self-betterment, and that it could once again come to represent a cerebral jump for Swindon into the possible.

With that much space, and its multiple uses, and its location, I can't see how if it was run by a skeleton committed staff, rather than profit hungry businessmen or a lumbering SBC, that it'd fail not to make a small annual return, even if it was burdened with its development debt. 

Incidentally, for my final two cents more, I would prefer for it to be rebuilt more slowly. Used as a training site for junior craftsmen, sculpted and reopened bloc by bloc.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on January 22, 2014, 08:36:59 PM
There's really not a lot of idiosyncrasy or humour or flourish or design in Swindon. You really notice the lack of stimulated people. I think the lack of a university has really capped this town's potential. Swindon's a depressed town in that it consistently lowers the bar for it to trip over. It's timid in its ambitions, turning to conservative tried and trusted answers: more off the shelf housing. More drive-to chain stores. It's as its morbidly accepted its role as an insipid national punching bag.


Nice to know someone agrees with me about the lack of university :thumb:

Think about other soulless towns, you'd probably think of Slough and Basingstoke, they share something in common with Swindon a lack of a university http://www.lovemytown.co.uk/Universities/UniversitiesTable2.asp (http://www.lovemytown.co.uk/Universities/UniversitiesTable2.asp)

Universities do add to the character of a town, you get a bunch of 18-21 year olds who aren't in the position of working all day or having to live off benefits, that brings in people with a totally different outlook on life into the town. 

Personally I can't help but think that the Kimmerfields/Union Square development should have been touted as a potential university campus.  Might never have worked but they could at least have tried flying the kite.  Trouble is as we all know students (and academics) have a tendency to be left of centre politically and the very idea of having some very intelligent left wingers in Swindon must scare the living daylights out of some of the rabble in charge of SBC at the moment.  What would a Professor of Computer Science have said if asked to comment the town-wide WiFi for £400,000 business?  I doubt it would have been complimentary!

Going back the MI the natural progression of the MI should have been to become a technical university and personally I think that is a more damning statement about Swindon than the physical state of the MI.  It shows that the spark that the founders of the MI had seems to have been snuffed out.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on January 22, 2014, 09:31:39 PM

Going back the MI the natural progression of the MI should have been to become a technical university and personally I think that is a more damning statement about Swindon than the physical state of the MI.  It shows that the spark that the founders of the MI had seems to have been snuffed out.

Isn't that the same the country over, the Mechanics, in fact the whole railway village is part of our countries manufacturing past. Is is something to get dewy eyed over? I don't think so.

Look up and down the country and there are examples of Victorian manufacturing infrastructure that has been brough into modern use and normally without public money.

The Mechanics is simply not worth getting sentimental over at the expense of leaving it as the eyesore has become for the last 20 years.


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on January 23, 2014, 03:04:15 PM
Quote
Nice to know someone agrees with me about the lack of university


Murray John envisaged Lydiard House and Park as the campus for a University.

We do have enough connections with Bath, Oxford Brookes and Cranfield - do we really need our own university?  It will certainly be a big hit with the buy to let crowd!

Quote
The Mechanics is simply not worth getting sentimental over at the expense of leaving it as the eyesore has become for the last 20 years.

It's almost 30 years and yes I agree with Ph1lc if for no other reason than we have to stop indulging in a belief that £10 to £20 millions (dependant on who you believe) will be made available to do the works neccessary to refurbish the building and put it to some social or commercial use.

I understand the council is looking at a seven figure bill for maintenance work on the Milton Road Health Centre, should we consider knocking it down and building a modern building?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on January 23, 2014, 09:55:29 PM
Quote
Nice to know someone agrees with me about the lack of university


Murray John envisaged Lydiard House and Park as the campus for a University.

We do have enough connections with Bath, Oxford Brookes and Cranfield - do we really need our own university?  It will certainly be a big hit with the buy to let crowd!


Sadly I don't think that's good enough any more, in the 80/90s maybe, but not now.  Swindon is already getting to close to a 200,000 population once the addition 26,000 homes in the local plan are built it'll be over 250,000. A lot of people aren't happy that Swindon keeps getting more and more housing but no decent new jobs.  Perhaps not having a university plays a part in that?

I do agree that the BTL brigade will be over the moon.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Disclaimed bona vacantia freehold escheats to Crown at last.
Post by: Karsten on February 08, 2014, 02:12:06 AM
Update..

Today (7.2.14) I got letter from TSOL that they have finally disclaimed both plots for the MI on 4.2.14 and now both plots escheat to the crown and can be sold by Burges Salmon.

SBC as the only charge holder will have to make up its mind..
Does SBC want the building and will SBC take ownership or will SBC release the charge and let the building be sold.


It has taken a while but the TSOL kept getting Forefront Estates Ltd. mixed up with Forefront Ltd. Doh.

With email it is easy to persist in asking questions over and over.. took a few resends and linking to web pages/PDFs. Seems TSOL are not that Tech Savvy..

So anyone fancy forming a Community Interest Limited Company and see if it could become the new owner?
If it did then shares could be offered/sold to people wanting to support the CIC, grants could be sought and volunteers sought to help out.

Any one got serious suggestions of ways of using such a big empty shell..?

One idea I like is a home for Luke's Star Wars Museum, another an Art Gallery for the Art College students.


Wonder who owns the scaffolding around the building?  Does it belong to a new owner?
If not could a new owner charge storage rent?

Karsten
www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIDEEA.jpg (http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIDEEA.jpg)


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 08, 2014, 08:38:36 AM

"So anyone fancy forming a Community Interest Limited Company and see if it could become the new owner?
If it did then shares could be offered/sold to people wanting to support the CIC, grants could be sought and volunteers sought to help out."

Surely the Mechanics Inst. Trust is best placed to do that, for a new group, just setting up that charitable company would take a while, to get the funding would have to produce all the stuff that the Trust probably have already waiting. Imperfect though they might be, they are the best place to start. A new building responsibility should concentrate their minds to do better, if they need to.

The council won't want to buy it, they are trying to get all their leisure buildings hived off to local groups as it is.

And I can't help predicting that in the haste so to do, many groups will be set up to fail and a real mess will ensure thereof.   They might think that it's Ok to set up charitable activities with councillors filling empty trustee places, but this is not viable and of the worst practice. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on February 08, 2014, 10:11:18 AM
Whoever can do whatever but they should actually have money in hand with which to do it - at the very least pay for security, maintenance and insurance.  Not promises or plans to get money from x, y or z, but real money. 

The reserves in the last set of Mechanics Trust accounts (to the 31/05/2013) were £7,456.  Personally I don't think that is anywhere near sufficient, so hopefully that'll rule out the Mechanics Trust.

Plenty of Swindon/Wiltshire charities have shown themselves to be capable of doing what the Mechanics Trust has failed to do, raise hundred of thousands per year through activities ranging from sponsored walks to charity shops to corporate money raising.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 08, 2014, 12:20:01 PM
But what they have got - I believe - I could be wrong is a group already set up.

The group is already a legal entity. 

Some cash in the bank to keep them viable whilst they seek the funding to do the job, which would come quicker if they had a hope of getting the building.  They have all the proof  of the importance of the building not just for Swindon but nationwide.

The business plan on the shelf somewhere, ready to dust down and reword if necessary. 

Relationships built with the right people.

And the 'passion/will to do it, because anyone who takes this on, with none of that, will be doing so in a foolhardy manner will soon find themselves coming a cropper.

Anyone who hands over anything this big over to a brand new, not 'management practiced' group of people will be taking a huge risk.

And the Mechanics building would be 'out of the frying pan and into the fire'.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on February 08, 2014, 01:37:06 PM
But what they have got - I believe - I could be wrong is a group already set up.

The group is already a legal entity. 

Some cash in the bank to keep them viable whilst they seek the funding to do the job, which would come quicker if they had a hope of getting the building.  They have all the proof  of the importance of the building not just for Swindon but nationwide.

The business plan on the shelf somewhere, ready to dust down and reword if necessary. 

Relationships built with the right people.

And the 'passion/will to do it, because anyone who takes this on, with none of that, will be doing so in a foolhardy manner will soon find themselves coming a cropper.

Anyone who hands over anything this big over to a brand new, not 'management practiced' group of people will be taking a huge risk.

And the Mechanics building would be 'out of the frying pan and into the fire'.

That is just the sort of nonsense that has kept this carbuncle a wreck for the last 30 years.


Legal entity - Karsten is correct, this has to be a CIC if you want to keep the building out of the hands of the developers.

Only a fool would take NMIPT seriously - they've had 20 years and have SEVEN GRAND!!!

Only slight flaw in Katsten's plan is it needs a use once renovated that will generate more revenue than the costs of running the building.

The capital can be raised by grant, public and business subscription.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Disclaimed bona vacantia freehold escheats to Crown at last.
Post by: Richard Symonds on February 08, 2014, 01:47:42 PM
Wonder who owns the scaffolding around the building?  Does it belong to a new owner?
If not could a new owner charge storage rent?

Kohima did an FOI I believe and he has the figure, it costs the Council, ie us, and it is on hire!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 08, 2014, 03:06:59 PM
Ok so we'll agree to disagree on the CIC idea, which is not what I would want any group I was in to be.

For one thing it's a relatively new idea, took agessssss to be agreed and no way of knowing how many ways there are to fiddle it yet.

"Only a fool would take NMIPT seriously - they've had 20 years and have SEVEN GRAND!!!"

It's not how much they have now, but how much they have raised over the 20 years and spent in pursuing their objective, and let's face it, whether you like it or not they have pursued it.

Anything set up and with an AGM has a potential for a whole committee to be voted off (or on).  You could have your CIC, how would you stop the MIT from just standing and becoming the board of the CIC?  Does this mean that a CIC board is unchangeable?

Since I first heard of CIC's they have obviously changed direction - perhaps that's what took the time. I'm off to do a bit of swatting, because they have been recommended as a way forward for charitable companies.  Recommended as away for the trustees not having the onerous task of reporting both to the Charity Commission AND Companies House.


 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on February 08, 2014, 03:26:33 PM
I did a FOI on the cost of the steel fencing and the cost of the scaffolding, but got a reply, after the reg 20 working days, that they are paying around £217 a month, to secure and look after the scaffolding, but no actual costs, so now have now gone back and asked again..
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on February 08, 2014, 04:17:51 PM


It's not how much they have now, but how much they have raised over the 20 years and spent in pursuing their objective, and let's face it, whether you like it or not they have pursued it.


No it's precisely how much they have now. Whatever they have done with whatever they have raised in the past it has achieved absolutely nothing for the Mechanics.

I'm afraid it's now or never.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on February 08, 2014, 07:16:45 PM
I did a FOI on the cost of the steel fencing and the cost of the scaffolding, but got a reply, after the reg 20 working days, that they are paying around £217 a month, to secure and look after the scaffolding, but no actual costs, so now have now gone back and asked again..

That figure sounds to be in the right ballpark, if anything a bit cheap.

Scaffolding can only be erected by qualified personnel, so it is usual to pay a company to erect and then pay a weekly or monthly hire charge. I haven't seen it for a while, but if it is just scaffold tubes it shouldn't be too expense. More expense if the scaffold is fully boarded out.

A scaffold also needs an up to date ScafTag before anyone can use it. This is a green plastic tag on the scaffold which states that it has been checked by a competent person who signs and dates to say that it is safe. This would need regular checks as anyone with a spanner or wrench could tamper with it. Despite the obvious risk to life, I have known school kids think it is funny to tamper with scaffolding.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on February 08, 2014, 09:21:37 PM
Things are never as simple as they seem. The scaffolding is a necessity for the long term future of the building.

My understanding is the scaffolding is doing more than a job of giving access for building work and inspection. It is also protecting and tying in the Northern end structure against vibration. This is also the reason for closing off part of the road.

The Mechanics sits within a Conservation area, the Conservation document identifies the problems associated with vehicle vibration in the area.   
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on February 08, 2014, 10:11:00 PM
Bob, I'm not an absolute expert on such matters, though I am a qualified building conservator, any scaffolding (as opposed to purpose built and installed shoring) which costs a mere £217 a month is not going to 'protect' any building from vibration (what 'vibration' anyway...?).

I don't know who told you that was its purpose, but I would recommend you look a little deeper if that was the justification given.

Access and maybe a little weather protection is all standard steel tube scaffolding can give.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on February 08, 2014, 10:29:38 PM
Tobes, happy to be advised, that is why I posted. I have seen scaffolding being used as building props in many places. Clearly a stand alone scaffolding can't prop but it might stop that which has been vibrated loose falling down.

If we have scaffolding experts reading the thread we might get a clearer picture. I am pretty clear on vibration damage as this is attributed to the lane closure and reference has been made in other documents.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on February 08, 2014, 11:07:16 PM
The scaffold to the north elevation (Bristol Street) can be viewed on Google Streetview.

It does look a bit more substantial than a standard scaffold as there is some additional bracing and a few ladder beams in there. I doubt if it is providing much support but if it makes the difference between a factor of safety = 0.99 and 1.00 then it is better than not having it.

The partial road closure is a bit odd. It won't help if the whole scaffold falls and if the council are worried about small pieces of masonry falling then debris netting would probably be more effective. My guess based on Bob's comments is that they are trying to keep vehicles away from the building to reduce vibration from traffic.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Simon on February 09, 2014, 02:03:36 AM
Umm Bob..

I am pretty clear on vibration damage as this is attributed to the lane closure and reference has been made in other documents.

So vibration damage to the Mechanics Institute is caused by buses being rerouted via roads which don't pass the Mechanics Institute?

Or, in order to avoid vibration damage, the buses were rerouted.

Please get your cause and effect in the right order  :)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 09, 2014, 05:22:06 AM
In regards the scaffolding I believe it is left there for access and possibly to partially support the SBC tin roof which basically is the responsibility of SBC.
This could be a point I could use in regards the 360k charge..?

The biggest cost would be the removal or the tin roof and repair/re-slating of the original MI.
I think even EH would see that reslating with old tech isn't feasible and the roof could be more modern with perhaps inroof solar panels etc. 
The roof is same construction as the Health Hydro with plate girders and 2" boarding.  the roof boards have started to rot after the previous owner Mr Singh,"left the MI to Rot" as he said he would years ago. :-(
I don't think all the roof boards have rotted.  Only part of the roof has and that is where the tarpaulins leaked.
Replacing the roof 'like for like' just wouldn't make sense.

I think the MI could get a lot of funding thru companies associated with the Self Build center.
They might like to use it as demo site for modern tech.

As for a "Use"  that can wait as I do not plan to develop the MI. just stop the rot.  It's been Mothballed which a good enough solution according to EH.
Also it's a big building and I doubt one Use is enough.   
I can see it having residential, music venue, sport (climbing?), I-Cafe/restaurant, Museum (Stars Wars), Indoor Garden/small Farm  :weed: ,Wedding, Community, Market  :froggy:, exhibitions/meetings, educational and who knows even theatrical/dance use.
Oops forgot another Church of the Jedi or maybe Syth..
But NOT in a few years..

I think it would take decades just like Camden Market which morphed from derelict warehouses into fourth-most popular visitor attraction in London.
The 1974 Camden Market was only held on Sundays and in derelict warehouses some were roofless.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camden_Market (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camden_Market)

The main cost of the MI would be maintaining and improving the current mothballing.
the South Part.. Plot 2 would be the first part to find a possible use for.

I would hope the Art College and the Princes Heritage trust, EH, WMF,etc.etc would take more interest in the MI when it has a proper owner, especially when being bombarded by emails about the building. :azn:
Maybe when the BBC run another Heritage series, the MI might be part of it.

The first part really is that the MI gets a proper owner that is interested in the building and not profit (primarily  ::) )

As for NMIPT ..





















































































:2funny:
(sorry couldn't help it)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 09, 2014, 09:01:06 AM
Ok, must admit a senior moment when talking about CIC's.  I was reading that as CIO?

"A charitable incorporated organisation, or CIO, is a new legal form for a charity.

A CIO:
is an incorporated form of charity which is not a company
only has to register with the Charity Commission and not Companies House
is only created once it is registered by the Commission
can enter into contracts in its own right and its trustees will normally have limited or no liability for the debts of the CIO

The CIO was created in response to requests from charities for a new structure which could provide some of the benefits of being a company, but without some of the burdens."

Which is easier to understand why this would be a better option for TMI.

It is NOT true that the present Trust has done nothing to save the building, in fact by saying so you prove to me that you are not aware of what needs to be done before anything is attempted on the building itself.

Apart from the awareness raising, the constant campaigning which eventually led to it being listed etc. I can honestly say that over the period of time I have not attended a Swindon wide meeting that has not also included a presence from one or two members of the Trust putting forth the Mechanics case, they have amassed a huge historical collection to-doing with the building, they have found volunteer 'experts' to provide plans etc. (even if you don't like them, they've done them)  and they have consulted on the same at every opportunity.

In doing so they have maybe put peoples backs up because of their forcefulness. They have done this despite every attempt by people who they make feel uncomfortable, to marginalise them.  They have put up with people bouncing on and off the committee, leaving and still not understanding the up front need to do all they were doing, bad mouthing them when they left, and managed to keep a viable committee going all that time and keeping it legal too - loads of paperwork to do behind the scenes when in receipt of public or charitable funding. And keeping some sort of building going to store all the stuff until someone gets the Mechanics. 

Their 'aim' was to save the Mechanics but to educate etc. along the way. Less able and spirited people would have given up ages ago.

When and if the people of Swindon ever get that building back, that's the sort of people we need to make sure it keeps running, even if they are the people not actually doing it.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on February 09, 2014, 09:12:47 AM


As for a "Use"  that can wait as I do not plan to develop the MI. just stop the rot.  It's been Mothballed which a good enough solution according to EH.


I'm sorry but it can't. What the building can become - and how, once it has been restored, it will be financially self sufficient is absolutely crucial.
Firstly that is what will enable EH and lottery funding grants. Secondly That is what will get people and business opening their cheque books.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on February 09, 2014, 09:47:15 AM
The scaffold to the north elevation (Bristol Street) can be viewed on Google Streetview.

It does look a bit more substantial than a standard scaffold as there is some additional bracing and a few ladder beams in there. I doubt if it is providing much support but if it makes the difference between a factor of safety = 0.99 and 1.00 then it is better than not having it.

The partial road closure is a bit odd. It won't help if the whole scaffold falls and if the council are worried about small pieces of masonry falling then debris netting would probably be more effective. My guess based on Bob's comments is that they are trying to keep vehicles away from the building to reduce vibration from traffic.

This is why whoever gets control of the MI must have money.  First of all they need to have money to insure the building, because if bits are falling off they probably lose any damages claim should an incident occur.   Trouble is how expensive is insurance going to be in the first place if there are that many problems, will they even be able to get the building insured?  Then there are any urgent/essential repairs that will need to be carried out and paid for (could an insurance company demand repairs are done?), I bet the weather we've been having since before Christmas hasn't done the building any good.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on February 09, 2014, 12:10:32 PM
Quote
Tobes, happy to be advised, that is why I posted. I have seen scaffolding being used as building props in many places. Clearly a stand alone scaffolding can't prop but it might stop that which has been vibrated loose falling down.

If we have scaffolding experts reading the thread we might get a clearer picture. I am pretty clear on vibration damage as this is attributed to the lane closure and reference has been made in other documents.

Hello again Bob - Whats being described sounds much more like weather protection. Be warned, if it is being used as some kind of protection against collapse or 'lumps dropping off', its unlikely to be very effective unless it includes baulks of timber for shoring/propping and acro-props (with something substantial to brace against). In fact, depending upon what lumps of masonry are at risk of coming off, the scaffolding itself might be a significant risk, as it won't hold the weight without collapsing itself and potentially falling out into the road.

Whats being described, if extensively netted, ought to be good for catching things like tiles and bits of pointing.

I suspect that there's some mealy-mouthed descriptions going on in the official version of whats happening: the lane closure probably has little or nothing to do with protecting the building from 'vibration' - and everything to do with protecting the council from legal action should a tile, brick or lump of masonry fall and hit a vehicle.

If things have become that bad, we really are looking at the last window of opportunity to save the building. I can't imagine that anyone is going to leave a lane of a busy road closed for any significant length of time without this long running issue being resolved once and for all.

Lets be clear, the building is falling apart because of natural weathering and a lack of maintenance. NOT vibration.

 :(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Outoftowner on February 09, 2014, 01:59:56 PM
Maybe it's the same vibrations that Rob feels? :banana:

(I'll get me coat.)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on February 09, 2014, 09:46:25 PM
 >:D
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 10, 2014, 01:59:52 AM
Just two images of what the NI was like in 1892 before the stage fire.


http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIfirstfloor1892.jpg (http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIfirstfloor1892.jpg)
www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIgroundfloor1892.jpg (http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIgroundfloor1892.jpg)

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on February 10, 2014, 07:53:35 AM
Simon - It is not a question of what order, it is a question of not following an order.

The Conservation order identifies buses should not be in the vicinity. This has not been followed and the current situation with the MI has led to some semblance of understanding with a lane closure. However this has not stopped buses in the vicinity or potential further damage.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 10, 2014, 08:24:23 AM
Gorgon Quote: This is why whoever gets control of the MI must have money.  First of all they need to have money to insure the building, because if bits are falling off they probably lose any damages claim should an incident occur. Trouble is how expensive is insurance going to be in the first place if there are that many problems, will they even be able to get the building insured?  Then there are any urgent/essential repairs that will need to be carried out and paid for (could an insurance company demand repairs are done?).

Whatever org/who takes over is unlikely to have the money up front, unless its big business of course and we all know how fast they (big businesses) have come forward to rescue the Mechanics so far. whether an orgs ambitions start large or small, once a contract/lease has been signed, it all has to start with insurance, who for instance is insuring it now? 

A new organisation starting out, will have no resources whatsoever and until they are a legal entity won't get funding or otherwise to pay said bills. Neither will they have any reputation to show funders of any kind whether or not they themselves are capable of managing the money.  I dare say when push comes to shove the building management will be put out to a sort of tender process, for which very few will apply.

Maybe the better option for it would be to be taken over/under the wing of the National Trust.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on February 10, 2014, 08:27:44 AM
Bob, please please don't let the issue of buses become an over-riding one. Large vehicles pass close to all kinds of old buildings all of the time in towns and cities all over the world. In fact, as large vehicles go, buses really aren't that big or heavy - and they certainly aren't going to be going at any speed close to the MI.

I repeat, if anyone anywhere has suddenly become concerned enough to do anything about it in terms of a lane closure, it will be as a result of potential damage to vehicles caused by lumps falling off of the MI, NOT as a result of the concern for damage being done by vehicles to the MI!

Damage caused by 'vibration' will be as nothing compared to the damage caused by weathering and decay through lack of maintenance.

I know that all sounds a bit 'hair-splitty', but its important to make sure that there's some reality behind whats happening and the reasons we're being given...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 10, 2014, 04:32:35 PM
Just had a cracking email newsletter from the Charity Commission, that is relevant to the discussion about charity management on this thread, but for some reason I can't copy it over. If anyone wants a copy to swot up, please message me. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 12:59:55 AM
Just asking one last time is there anyone interested in trying to get ownership of the MI on the cheap and then trying to build interest in it.. in a similar way to how Camden Market arose from dereliction?



I have just re-stated my minimum bid for both plots..
SBC can always use their charge to block any sale, but then risk being challenged to take ownership.
And the two previous owners could make a disguised grab for it again.
This is the 3rd time I have bid £1000 on it.   (bid previously in 2000, 2002)
Perhaps 3rd time lucky? 
Long shot but at least it is putting pressure on SBC to do something.


To Bob Wright as a longstanding central councillor..   
Have you heard anything about the MI on the council grapevine?
Are there still no solid plans for the MI,  just ongoing never ending investigations, etc?

What will the council do with the charge?
Block a sale or will they do what HSBC did and release the charge so the building can have a chance and be looked after by a CIC ltd or a even BPT?
Would ask same question to R Buckland but asked him about the DigitalCity WiFiasko and he just bollocktics a lawyers 'nothing' reply.
Not heard anything from him about anything happening in Swindon, just the usual bragging about jobs etc..


What do you think will be the response to a minimum bid for escheat property?
Any odds?  1 to 100000 or  50/50?

Seriously doubt I will be offered any part of the building, but will find it interesting what sort of response it gets from EH, SBC.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 01:22:56 AM
Mr Singh did get planning permission for flats and did some of the permitted work, like installing PVC roof windows !  ???

Just attaching the planning for anyone interested..
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on February 11, 2014, 01:36:00 PM
gOT A NEW REPLY TO MY foi, TODAY, IT STILL DOESNT MENTION THE FENCE AND COSTS, BUT ABOUT THE SCAFFOLDING IT SAYS IT APPLIED TO THE COURTS FOR A COST OF AROUND £87,000, BUT WERE ONLY GIVEN £48,000 SO THEY HAVE LOST AROUND £40,000 ON THAT, AND THIS IS WITH THE PRESUMPTION THAT THEY ACTUALLY GOT THE £48,000.
at scrutiny last night, they said they couldn't afford the £80,000 to put the parking problems of redhuse right, so they have their priorities.... :coffee:
I wonder if the council leader will ask the police about that loss.....
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on February 11, 2014, 06:00:49 PM
Tobes I will try to clarify the current vibration issues however I am pretty clear about the guidance in the Conservation order. That was in the days when bicycles were the preferred choice of the rail workers who used the roads in abundance.

Karsten/Tobes - A meeting is being set up as a follow up to the recent decisions. I will use this meeting to clarify, vibration, potential ownership rights.

The ongoing costs for securing the building is a concern and I will try again to get a true cost. It is difficult to see how these ongoing costs can be recovered.

Debt recovery or Loan recovery seems to be an underlying issue for this Administration. It was interesting at last nights Scrutiny Committee how once again the North Swindon 106 money loaned to South Swindon has still to be paid back. This has left North Swindon short of money to fix its parking problems let alone hard standing for bus stops.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on February 11, 2014, 06:16:59 PM
Karsten perhaps trying something along the lines of what WBCT are doing to raise cash to buy a disused pub might be an idea?

http://www.wbct.org.uk/branches/foxham-lyneham/news/1210-peterborough-arms-a-dauntsey-lock-canal-centre-appeal-a-loan-investment (http://www.wbct.org.uk/branches/foxham-lyneham/news/1210-peterborough-arms-a-dauntsey-lock-canal-centre-appeal-a-loan-investment)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 09:25:50 PM
Took some photos today.

Gives an answer to why the scaffolding is still there..   It can't be leased, it must have been bought as it does support the roof, but on the inside.

Shows how insane and crap ScS were in their Urgent Repair.

In my opinion they were vandals and have done more damage than anyone.
If the roof fell in where this gaping hole is then it was the extra weight of those tin roof scaffolding beams.

I dread to think what recent weather has done inside.  The north part must be soaked and rotting from within.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 10:00:48 PM
The roof is missing on the other side too.. but uploading photos takes a while.
What is more worrying is that where the roof is missing so are the plate girder roof trusses.
These must have been removed in part by ScS, I seriously doubt they have collapsed by them selves.
The roof boards maybe, but not plate girder roof trusses.


How the hell did they think that a 150yr roof would support all that scaffolding which is their tin roof.

I will lodge a  FOI and ask who was responsible and who was engineering responsible.
Whether any loading calculations were made prior to starting and  for the date when the collapse happened.



Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 10:59:18 PM
How it looked before ScS  and their Tin Roof vandalised the roof.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 11, 2014, 11:12:02 PM
The before photo is when the Mr Singh's tarpaulins were removed prior to the Tin roof install so people had walked on the roof to remove the tarpaulins.
You can see walkway scaffolding is still partially there tho some seems to have been removed or fallen down?

The roof collapse has been covered up in more ways than one.   >:(
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on February 28, 2014, 07:02:37 PM
Turns out the mechanics trust haven't met since May, and these are the people who'll supposedly rescue the MI.  ::)
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11043243.Still_no_progress_on_future_of_Mechanics__Institute/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11043243.Still_no_progress_on_future_of_Mechanics__Institute/)

They don't want the MI to go on to the open market, well there's a surprise, perhaps if they'd bothered to raise a half decent amount of money they might be in the position to actually pay for it.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on February 28, 2014, 09:30:25 PM
Adver quote "CONCERNS have been raised about the future of the Mechanics’ Institute as a group charged with deciding it's use has not met since last May."

This does not say that the Mechanics Trust have not met since May, it says 'the group' deciding it's future has not met since May.  But there is Daniel in the Adver raising awareness of that fact.
 
Again, the Trust itself cannot raise money to buy it, well not unless it start's holding some big jumble sales etc.  They will not be able to get 'funding' for it until it comes into public ownership of some kind. 

They wouldn't know how much to raise unless someone puts a price on it and the For Sale signs go up. And of course they don't want it to go on the open market. 

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on February 28, 2014, 10:09:49 PM
Just to stop even more speculation.
After chasing the TSOL and then their solicitor I got a reply (pasted below).
It shows  that SBC in practical terms and in responsibility already 'own' the building but are not keen for that to be known.
Any sale would have to be accepted by SBC as the ONLY charge holder, therefore SBC have POWER OF SALE.

So could easily sell it for any price they wish..   Hmm what is that the sum often banded about?

I'm going to propose a CIC ltd company solution similar to the one I offered in 2000/02.
I'll bid £1000 for the building, then form a CIC company which will offer an initial share release of 1000 shares at £250.   I'll put in £9000 for 45 shares.
The CIC will have an unpaid board of 10 share holders (Elected every year).
The CIC will have a life of only 14 yrs and will offer the building for sale with priority given to largest lease holder, SBC for 90% of official value at time.

I will remind SBC of the roof damage and ongoing costs and liabilities which will increase if/when EH issue Urgent Repairs on SBC.   Karma.

Such a company would release SBC from liabilities and allow grants and other funding (selling shares in MI).

The idea is to turn on the Light again in the Mechanics and attract interest from relevant people/companies.
www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIDEEA.jpg (http://www.swindon.org.uk/images/MIDEEA.jpg)
Remember Camden Docks Market started a bit like that 30 yrs ago and turned Camden from a run down area of London into one of the most visited.

===============================================
LETTER FROM BURGESS SALMON SOLICTORS

Dear Sirs
Property: Plot 1/2 The Mechanics Institute, Swindon
Company: Forefront Estates Limited (Dissolved)
Thank you for your e-mail of 12 February 2014 and we note that this is a difficult and sensitive matter.  The following will explain the general position with regard to this unusual area of the law.
BACKGROUND
Following the disclaimer of the Property by the Treasury Solicitor, the Property may be deemed subject to escheat to the Crown at common law.  By longstanding convention, properties that are subject to escheat fall to be dealt with by The Crown Estate, for whom this firm acts.
In accordance with legal advice given on previous occasions, The Crown Estate does not propose to take any action which might be construed as an act of management,  possession or ownership in relation to the Property, since to do so may incur upon it liabilities with which the Property is, or may become, encumbered. Neither this letter nor any other correspondence passing between us should be construed as such an act. It follows that The Crown Estate will not insure or manage the Property. 
POLICY
A disposal of such interest as The Crown Estate may have in the Property to an appropriate person or body is not, however, out of the question.
CONSULTATION
The Crown Estate's policy in situations where property may be deemed subject to escheat is that persons who may have a legitimate interest in the future of the property or who may be adversely affected by its sale should be given the opportunity to participate in its purchase.  We would therefore expect to see evidence that appropriate consultation has been carried out prior to any sale, although unanimity of agreement of all consulted parties is not a prerequisite for a sale.  We are willing if necessary to discuss with you how consultation should be carried out.
THE PROPERTY
Any disposal would be subject to any mortgages, legal charges or other encumbrances which might exist against the former freehold interest in the Property. Please note that there does appear to be legal charges and equitable charges in favour of Swindon Borough Council (the "Council") referred to on the former freehold titles.
Unless the Council are prepared to release their charges over the Property, then any disposal by The Crown Estate would be subject to the charges.  As an alternative for seeking a disposal from The Crown Estate you may wish to consider contacting the Council in order to investigate whether they would be prepared to sell the Property under their power of sale.  The reason for this is that a purchase from the Council under a power of sale will be free from all charges and encumbrances registered after the date of their charges which is something that The Crown Estate would be unable to do.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on March 03, 2014, 08:53:47 PM
Quote
In accordance with legal advice given on previous occasions, The Crown Estate does not propose to take any action which might be construed as an act of management,  possession or ownership in relation to the Property, since to do so may incur upon it liabilities with which the Property is, or may become, encumbered.

It sounds like the building is in limbo. If the building became dangerous or in need of urgent repair is anyone responsible for it? If not, the Grade 2 listed status doesn't seem to protect the building. Could it just be left to fall down?

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on March 04, 2014, 12:28:20 AM
Well I think legally EH could force SBC to do Urgent Repairs, but EH have never have forced a Council as far as I know of.
So in practice, yes the building could be left to fall into further disrepair, until say part of the ScS tin roof blows off or some masonry falls.
That could be quite a few years

There is also the danger of it being set on fire (Locarno & Wroughton Barn).
The building won't fall down, but rather become a ruin.

Of course SBC/ScS is part responsible for the roof collapse even tho it is Mathew Singh who took the tiles off.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 06, 2014, 06:02:02 PM
So would it have been better to have a Matthew Singh style hotel etc or the derelct structure we have today?

The first post on this thread is dated 2006 so 8 years has passed and where are we exactly?

Consider the next phase of the Kimmerfields project is scheduled to be started in 2016 that's only another 2 years away!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on March 06, 2014, 08:32:28 PM
So would it have been better to have a Matthew Singh style hotel etc or the derelict structure we have today?

Hotel please.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on March 06, 2014, 09:06:55 PM
So would it have been better to have a Matthew Singh style hotel etc or the derelct structure we have today?

Absolutely yes it would Des.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on March 06, 2014, 11:08:56 PM
it's not 8 yrs more like 30yrs.
M. Singh(Forefront Estates ltd) bought it in 2002, Mountmead Ltd had it over 20yrs before that.

As for Muse and Kimmerfields.. there are already lots of office buildings with vacant floors in Swindon... 
The bus station was supposed to have been moved years ago, and lots of other things should have happened but never have.

Forward Swindon is the 3rd or 4th incarnation of New Swindon company or what ever SCS call it.
It is just as stupid a use of council money as Digital City was.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Geoff Reid on March 07, 2014, 01:54:42 AM
Hotel.

Sent from my GT-N7000 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: ph1lc on March 07, 2014, 09:04:24 AM

Forward Swindon is the 3rd or 4th incarnation of New Swindon company or what ever SCS call it.
It is just as stupid a use of council money as Digital City was.

A whole new can of worms  - but you most certainly aren't wrong there!!!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on March 07, 2014, 03:28:14 PM
A bit Hobsons' choice really isn't it - hotel.

With a decent architect it might even have been possible to do a good job of integrating the new with the old.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 07, 2014, 11:03:40 PM
Quote
it's not 8 yrs more like 30yrs

Indeed it is. I was being kind (i know that's hard to credit) by just referring to the timeline when Mr Singh was given permission to undertake limited development.

In truth, the MI the Old College Building and the Corn Exchange (the Locarno) have been bedevilled by people with honourable intentions, who cared more for the historical aspect  and ignored the fact that without a commercial proposition - a heritage philanthropist or public money (say from a body which is happy to spend hundreds of millions on London based opera) there really is no private money to secure the future of old buildings.

Emotional ties are important and some would say essential  - I was very sad when they knocked down all the houses along Princes Street - but that was progressive 'at the time'.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 08, 2014, 08:51:36 AM
I hardly think that the old houses in Princes street could be classed the same as MI, Locarno whoops, Corn exchange and the old College.  They were more or less slums anyway as was much of the housing that went in those days.

Maybe the historical aspect of the buildings is valued more by those whose families contributed to them in some way? If those people had not been interested in them, we wouldn't be arguing about them today.

People tend to forget that although we are a fairly new town, we managed a lot of 'first's' back then, for that reason alone, maybe, the original use should also be preserved. Preserving the buildings should not have been this difficult.  The difficulty has come with the length of time it has taken and bad mistakes made along the way.

And those mistakes were NOT made by those trying to raise awareness of the need to preserve them.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on March 08, 2014, 09:25:25 AM
Swindon's problem is return on investment, a listed building in Swindon will cost nearly as much to restore as one in Oxford. But because property prices are higher in Oxford they'll still make a healthy profit.

There was time in the late 80's when Swindon was still booming when a company thought they could make a go of hotel, but TBC and local busybodies scuppered that (the 90s recession was the final nail in the coffin).  Those days are gone and may never return unless something drastic happens in Swindon, like a major new employer or even a university coming here.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Tobes on March 08, 2014, 09:30:01 AM
I agree with pretty much everything you have to say on this subject Des

The situation is the classic cleft-stick. Commercial use need to be viable and sustainable before someone will commit to taking on an old building. But developers and commercial purposes regard the historical, cultural or aesthetic importance of a building as utterly irrelevant to their turning a buck.

And therein lies the problem.

If we roll-over to developers, we know that CLEARLY there would barely be a Victorian (or older) building left standing in the town. Once upon a time a building represented an enormous investment in time and expertise - but now, thanks to the price of land, its the footprint of the property which is the valuable bit: the bricks and mortar is the cheap part, relatively speaking.

The crux of the problem lies in what we think buildings are actually for.

Quote
but that was progressive 'at the time'.

And that's the issue. If buildings have become purely functional weather-proof boxes, which can be built according to a very limited lifespan and purpose, then 'progressive' has simply become cant for disposable. Thats the big problem for me. For all the guff about sustainability and green politics entering into the world of construction, what they're really about is treating buildings like templated prefabs. Of course, its in the construction industry's interest to be a new broom continually sweeping clean because thats what keeps them in employment.

But I can't help thinking that we're not only making a mockery of the idea of 'reduce, reuse, recycle', we're also ignoring the richness of culture that respecting a town's heritage can bring. Its no accident that Swindon is chav capital of the west, in which a large majority of people espouse such unimaginative and bland aspirations. Do they reflect the appearance of the town, or does the appearance of the town reflect them?

Its back to Swindon's 'brand' - and the sooner that politicians, planners, investors and developers get this through their thick but greedy heads, the better: JUST ASK ANYONE WHO DOESN'T LIVE HERE [though it increasingly applies to those of us who are coming round to moving elsewhere too] WHAT THEIR PERCEPTION IS OF THE TOWN.

Buildings and architecture are responsible for a huge element of the negativity which blights our town.

But instead of addressing it, we're still making it worse in the name of 'progress'. I have absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that Kimmerfields and Regents will look any better in fifteen years than the disgusting mess we were bequeathed in the 1960s.

Grand visions almost never work out in the long run as they're always about delivering the wants, desires and fashions of now, not tomorrow.

To put things right for the town would require a blend of imagination, subtle and a preparedness to be uncompromising when proposed developments don't blend the needs of commercial viability with long term sustainability and preservation of heritage. We're simply not going to get it from our current generation of politicians, are we?

To my mind, the Retail Outlet was a shining example of how the duality of heritage and commercial re-use need not be mutually exclusive. Intelligent compromise has to be the key to finding a way forward.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 08, 2014, 10:09:48 AM
Quote
They were more or less slums anyway as was much of the housing that went in those days.


You are quite wrong on this one Muggins - The houses in Beckhampton Street and Princes Street were homes which just happened to be 'in the wrong place'

The MI is more of a slum than any home that was destroyed in the name of progress.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 08, 2014, 10:11:57 AM
Quote
To my mind, the Retail Outlet was a shining example of how the duality of heritage and commercial re-use need not be mutually exclusive. Intelligent compromise has to be the key to finding a way forward.

Spot on analysis. if our town centre resembled the Outlet Village it really would be a 'gem' - but it doesn't and it's not.

Interestingly the expansion of the Outlet Village is the complete opposite to the contraction in the town centre
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 08, 2014, 01:28:25 PM
One of the possibilities for the Mechanics' would have been to locate the New Library in a full restored building, and for that we could have got some Lottery Money, but it wasn't to be.

As you all know the Mechanics' had a very successful lending library and it was one of the first in the country.

Does anyone know why David Murray John chose to build a new library for the town separate from the Mechanics' in 1941?

Sadly all this is might have been and as the Trust seem unable or unwilling to come up with a commercial alternative I am starting to err on the side of someone coming forward with a good design to turn it into a hotel, but do we even need another one?  I suggest not.

So the state of limbo will continue until it falls down as it would appear no one has the ability or even want to or do anything constructive with it.

and finally be careful what you wish for Karsten because if you do get the building the Council will immediately slap a works order on you and that would bankrupt you!  If you protected yourself with limited liability you would not even be considered as they want to get rid of this poltice around their necks.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on March 08, 2014, 01:43:11 PM
So the state of limbo will continue until it falls down as it would appear no one has the ability or even want to or do anything constructive with it.

and finally be careful what you wish for Karsten because if you do get the building the Council will immediately slap a works order on you and that would bankrupt you!  If you protected yourself with limited liability you would not even be considered as they want to get rid of this poltice around their necks.

Exactly. It is ironic that the listed status intended to protect the building has actually condemned it.

If English Heritage believe the building is worthy of listed status, why don't they buy it and restore it? If they don't value the building enough to save it, why not de-list it?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 08, 2014, 06:03:34 PM
Exactly. It is ironic that the listed status intended to protect the building has actually condemned it.

If English Heritage believe the building is worthy of listed status, why don't they buy it and restore it? If they don't value the building enough to save it, why not de-list it?

Readers may be aware that the old works turntable still exists in the shrubbery in front of the old pattern store now an Italian Restaurant who I believe now own the free hold on which it sits!!  Not that anyone is aware that it is there, not least of all the enthusiasts!  It should be part of the Railway experience tour that used to be taken around the railway village.  Is the old foreman's cottage still an exhibit Bob?

Some years ago now I tried to get the turntable to Minehead to join other Swindon artifacts on the West Somerset Railway and sadly English Heritage decreed it must stay where it is and now it is slowly disintegrating into a pile of iron oxide. Is this a result or unnecessary interference that has achieved nothing?  Does this remind anyone of what faces us here with the Mechanics'?  The West Somerset Railway successfully extended their existing turntable which came from Pwellhi, but it is significant that at the end of the day that it cost more to rebuild than it would have cost to build a new one from scratch.  Restoration is never cheap.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on March 08, 2014, 11:09:20 PM
This a really thought provoking thread. My own views and context of the Mechanics have been expressed on Talkswindon and via some videos which Geoff has put on Talkswindon/Youtube.

I believe the Mechanics is central to a regenerated heritage site which outside of the South/Western docks is the largest in the South West. It stretches from the Outlet to the Railway Station North and South of the line. Add the redeveloped Oasis site which should have the countries largest Snow Dome and a 8000 seater centre will provide Swindon with its own distinct major family attraction. We do not need to keep looking at other Towns/Cities ideas for tourism and economic growth we will have our own Swindon identity aimed at families.

The Railway Cottage will be part of the heritage offer. The management transfer to the National Trust and Steam did not improve visits, a new approach is being looked at. This could lead to a heritage tours for school children etc. The transfer to new management is ongoing however I hope it is linked to other heritage experience such as Steam.

Regarding the Turntable I will see what is happening however I would rather it stay with the local railway society as part of the wider local  heritage experience.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on March 09, 2014, 04:28:22 AM
Bob,

You have been Central's Councillor for quite some time and should know all there is to know about the legal issues etc with the MI.
So since SBC have power of Sale, would they pass it on to a CIC ltd company if it meant that some one could go for funding etc?

If not would the Council allow interested residents to talk to possible companies, institutions, etc that might find the MI of interest.
Perhaps a MI volunteer group could be used to help keep the building safe, clear weeds/growth etc perhaps fix guttering.   
The building still has trees growing in masonry and I read that some repairs were in dire need for the north roof.
I would gladly spend time at weekends and some evenings.   I'd sign a disclaimer too so any injuries were my own responsibility.
So liability insurance would be a stopper.
I sure others might too.

Just saying it is unsafe and no one must enter is daft and irresponsible.  A stitch in time saves nine!
If more of the roof collapses it will be because of SCS inaction.

The biggest stumbling block is ownership or being able to discuss the building with some authority.
No one is interested if you don't own or speak for someone that owns the building.

In all practical terms SBC do 'own' the building as they are the ONLY charge holder.

So what does SBC really want to happen with the MI?
Leave it in Limbo and hope something doesn't happen or perhaps does???




How much does the MI cost SBC with scaffolding and regular safety checkups?
What work/cost is needed to check up on the Scaffold roof?

What are the legal demands regarding liability insurance?  Is there any.  You are not legally required for a house, so?
If SBC is self insuring then it will pay for any damage for debris from the MI?


Has SBC consulted with any companies and instituions about possible uses/sale/letting of the MI?  If so which ones?
The Lime Kiln in Wooton Bassett is great example of how old building can have a new life? 
Camden Market is also an example of how a derelict area can be slowly rebuilt and become an attraction.

The Felden Clegg report SBC paid for stated that the MI was key to a rejuvenation of the Railway Area and with the Tunnel also on a path linking The new Outlet Centre with Swindon Town centre.
It was the Market, why not allow it to have a small indoor market every Sunday in what was the Reading room.
I'm sure the Art College would love to use it as an art Exhibition.

Key to all this is ownership.. by someone interested in seeing the building either kept safe (moth balled) or brought back into use bit by bit over yrs or decades.


Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: bobwright on March 09, 2014, 09:26:27 AM
karsten - I am working with others to get to a point where public involvement is possible. I may be the ward councillor however I am not in administration. I am questioning the delays which seem to have no foundation considering the progress which was made early last year.
I am committed to finding a sustainable solution.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on March 10, 2014, 10:20:14 PM
Mind the gap: London v the rest on BBC 2, very sobering watching for a town the size of Swindon...

If it reflects government thinking at the moment we shouldn't expect any money to redevelop the MI it's up to either us or big business.  Big money arts centres and redevelopments don't work if they're in the wrong place (i.e. outside the big cities) and the business model needs to be based on hard reality not pipe dreams (even Bristol couldn't sustain the commonwealth museum next to temple meads).

Even more depressingly it pretty much said that towns have to grow if the demand is there and we need to accept we're going to be a spoke for the hubs of London and Bristol. It seemed to contradict what most people think about Swindon needing to consolidate before expanding again, basically in order to get better infrastructure and facilities that we want Swindon has to get bigger as otherwise the hubs will suck the life out.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 11, 2014, 08:29:27 AM
That thinking was clear going back some years, at meetings about Spatial Strategy etc, and there used to be a lot more information and chances to discuss it face to face than there is now, towns like Gloucester, Cheltenham etc. all were saying "let Swindon take it".

At the time, we had sensible, knowledgeable local people fighting it for us, or at least people we could align ourselves with and trust to take us down a well researched planning objection with half a chance of winning.  Who is there now?

We also had officers that, even if they had to play the borough game, could give us guidance on where to find alternative arguments for ourselves.  We grumbled then, but in retrospect there was a modicum of mutual respect for the activist and a well oiled information exchange.   And that all important chance to stand up and say your piece. I sued to come out of those sessions/meeting invigorated, still feeling like we were doomed, but at least with a modicum of hope. 

This changed about 10 years ago, what happened then to make that change?
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on March 11, 2014, 08:54:20 AM
What happened 10 years ago?  My guess is policy silently changed from the post-war one of actively encouraging the movement of private sector money and jobs out of places like London to a policy of may the best man win and if it's London then it's London.  Hence SBC greedily going after the crumbs of private sector jobs or being prepared to sacrifice Coate for a university - it's just that nobody bothered telling us.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 11, 2014, 10:10:39 AM
I can't place what happened, many changes took place and a seemingly complete U-turn on community involvement and engagement - the more they spoke about doing it the less it happened, it was/is like some national confidence trick.  A sort of 'We'll tell them we want them to engage more and that they need to do it more' but the more they talked the more barriers they put up to it happening.

Those already very active were more or less accused of standing in front making a barrier for this unseen and unknown army of people who couldn't get past us to engage, that was nonsense of course, the reason we were there, was because we were the only people that would to do it - put our heard over the parapet so to speak.

It started under the last government so it was wasn't a change there, in fact we thought things were looking up, however any policy that was maybe intended to work has changed under this government - well not changed so much as interpreted differently. Add to that the money crisis, the cut backs in local government, the constant changes, etc. etc.

Ironically they did this whilst giving us awards for doing what we did? 

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 13, 2014, 03:12:45 PM
Quote
One of the possibilities for the Mechanics' would have been to locate the New Library in a full restored building, and for that we could have got some Lottery Money, but it wasn't to be.

Good thought Richard but let's be realistic - when the Library was moved 'temporarily' to Princes Street the outcry was deafening - it's too far, it's too dangerous to cross roads - all sorts of claims were made.

The really big mistake was allowing Swindon Dance to occupy the Town Hall - which was the natural home for the Library and a small art gallery
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 13, 2014, 03:16:28 PM
No probs, before long the council will small enough to be able to move back into the Town Hall and the Mechanics can then become a centre for the ARTS.   
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 13, 2014, 03:24:31 PM
That would scuppoer Coun perkins plan to create a cultrual avaenue from the top of Regent Circus to  Whale Bridge
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 14, 2014, 09:10:09 AM
No probs, before long the council will small enough to be able to move back into the Town Hall and the Mechanics can then become a centre for the ARTS.

and from where will you get the money M?

Oh yes we could always add to our £120m worth of debt and borrow some more!!

As for the Council getting smaller we could start with the Councillors, why we would we want 57 of them when their responsibilities are rapidly disappearing and so many are so part time they cannot even stay for the whole of Council meetings!!

And as for the Regeneration King Des he will first have to impress the electorate of Hayden Wick!!   >:D
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Des Morgan on March 14, 2014, 07:22:04 PM
Quote
And as for the Regeneration King Des he will first have to impress the electorate of Hayden Wick!! 

Aarggh - wish you had put a comma between King and Des  and then after Des - I would hate people not to know you mean Coun Perkins is the 'Regeneration King' and it is he who has to 'impress the electorate of Haydon Wick'
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Richard Symonds on March 15, 2014, 09:20:40 AM
Quote
And as for the Regeneration King Des he will first have to impress the electorate of Hayden Wick!! 

Aarggh - wish you had put a comma between King and Des  and then after Des - I would hate people not to know you mean Coun Perkins is the 'Regeneration King' and it is he who has to 'impress the electorate of Haydon Wick'

Aarggh my English let met down again!!

Unfortunately Des that is exactly what I meant to say!!

That said we are detracting from the subject at hand, so what on earth can happen to the Mechanics now? 

And before you suggest it M borrowing, £30m to pay for it without an economic future is not an option.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 15, 2014, 03:02:57 PM
Aye! Who? Me?

My posting:
No probs, before long the council will small enough to be able to move back into the Town Hall and the Mechanics can then become a centre for the ARTS.   

Was written with a large dollop of irony!!

But how would we - don't forget it's our money - pay for it?  Close the Civic, save on all the heating etc.  Sell of the empty Civic Office and site for housing.

Simples..... this suggestion is also ironic.  Lets have more people doing it, less space for them to do it in.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Whipling on March 20, 2014, 11:26:17 AM
Just got back from Bucharest where I saw this delightful renovation project. Nice to see that Mr Singh got his hotel put up somewhere eventually.

(http://)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on March 20, 2014, 04:51:12 PM
Oh Whipling, Don't even give them the idea!
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on July 24, 2014, 04:25:34 PM
WBCT raise enough money to buy former pub, just goes to show what people can achieve when they actually know what they're doing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-28444745 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-28444745)

I have deep reservations about WBCT's plans for a canal in the town centre, but credit where credit is due they have a track record of getting stuff done.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 27, 2014, 06:49:45 PM
Here we go again, http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11627706.Move_to_put_Mechanics_Institute_back_to_work/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11627706.Move_to_put_Mechanics_Institute_back_to_work/)

Any restoration of the MI is going to cost £millions, the HLF don't give out 100% grants as far as I know, where is that money going to come from?

Others have already suggested it, convert it into an Art Gallery to hold our collection of 20th Century art (an idea I've really warmed to).  An art gallery would be a two-birds with one stone application to the HLF - save the MI and provide somewhere to display the best collection of modern British art outside London.  It's a no-brainer, trouble is the MI trust, forwardSwindon and SBC (including Cllr Perkins) are all involved.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on November 27, 2014, 11:06:15 PM
Let's hope all parties listen to each other and reach a realistic, amicable decision.
It's good that all sides appear to be working as a team.
Just for once it would be nice for Swindon to lose its dustbin image and actually restore some heritage instead of just destroying everything and replacing it with tat and sprawl
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Phil Chitty on November 28, 2014, 09:08:10 AM
Here we go again, [url]http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11627706.Move_to_put_Mechanics_Institute_back_to_work/[/url] ([url]http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11627706.Move_to_put_Mechanics_Institute_back_to_work/[/url])

Any restoration of the MI is going to cost £millions, the HLF don't give out 100% grants as far as I know, where is that money going to come from?

Others have already suggested it, convert it into an Art Gallery to hold our collection of 20th Century art (an idea I've really warmed to).  An art gallery would be a two-birds with one stone application to the HLF - save the MI and provide somewhere to display the best collection of modern British art outside London.  It's a no-brainer, trouble is the MI trust, forwardSwindon and SBC (including Cllr Perkins) are all involved.


Have to say that's a brilliant thought for more reasons than just that. The expanded Outlet Village will be a bigger than ever draw to Swindon. Turn the Mechanics into another attraction and you will help to draw people into the regenerated town centre.

The problem with the NMIPT idea, apart from lack of money, it that they haven't come up with a viable use for the place. They seem to have forgotten about a Theatre which is not needed and are now bleating on about a Cinema, which is needed even less.

Lottery funding, whilst most certainly available for the right plan, will come with strings attached. The last thing Swindon needs right now is another Steam where the taxpayers are forking out to keep an "attraction" open that can't pay for itself. We are going to build a museum anyway, so it is just a matter of diverting the operational funding to a different building.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on November 28, 2014, 09:51:15 AM
Yeah you've spotted the problem as well then, the MI trust still want their community use thing and SBC are still pushing for a separate museum and art gallery in addition to the MI.

Points West this morning mentioned that the Concorde museum at Filton has just got £5million of lottery funding as part of a £60million development!  Goes to show just how pricey these things are and small the lottery funding can be as a %, so in my opinion SBC would be far better off focusing its efforts on the MI as a gallery.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: swindoncentric on April 30, 2015, 10:01:53 PM
The Mechanics Trust seem to be building their empire, but not with the building you'd expect, but any others they can find http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html (http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on May 01, 2015, 09:08:26 AM
I take your point Swindoncentric, but let's hope they do have enough volunteers.  Local Community assets are being transferred left right and centre, and if they do not go to community groups and orgs like the Trust, they will be closed, built on and or demolished. 

Suffice to say they would not get their hands on anything if those with the power to distribute them thought they were unable to manage them - or is it that those with the power to distribute them are trying to get them out into community hands as quickly as possible and maybe being a little reckless? 

At the moment I would rather they were in community hands rather than with a Borough that would have no qualms about selling them off for whatever reason.

It does not help, that the Charity Commission (also having funding slashed) does not want several charities in an area where one will do and are therefore encouraging groups to work together.
 
Neither does it help that people seem enthusiastic about adopting say a bit of ground etc, and doing the physical fun-get your face in the paper-sort of work but don't want to be bothered with the onerous task of monthly meeting, minutes, constitutions. Those people can neatly sit under a larger group who does those hard yards for them. 

There will be agreements about the management of whatever, along with leases or tenancy at will. 

Concerned to hear about the close relationship of worker to a Trustee, but if the recruitment process was a fair Equal Opportunity process, which the Trust would be obligated to do, records kept etc. then the relationship is up to them to manage.   

I was in the same position once myself, as it happened my sister was a trustee of the charity I worked for.  She stayed away from decisions about my employment and was not my line manager - the other trustees ensured that this happened. 

One thing I am sure of is - that all of this will be in place - they would need to be as good at preserving the Trust and its good name as a charity, as they would at trying to preserve the Mechanics, because if they don't do the former, they will NEVER NEVER EVER get their hands on the latter.  I have no doubt they are very much aware of that.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Phil Chitty on May 01, 2015, 12:28:08 PM
The Mechanics Trust seem to be building their empire, but not with the building you'd expect, but any others they can find [url]http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html[/url] ([url]http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html[/url])


Bakers Arms - that's an interesting one. Do the Council own the freehold?

The trust don't have the wherewithal to take it on but never the less if the Council do own it then perhaps they should let them, as long as it's on a non assignable lease.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on May 01, 2015, 12:56:16 PM
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11812279.print/ (http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11812279.print/)

Think they already have it, Phil, I seem to remember a 'launch' photo.  It probably won't be run as a pub I and if it is they would be subject to the same licensing laws as any other pub, but it could prove a useful income which could be covenanted back to the other projects, all perfectly legitimate, although they may have to run a trading company long side the charitable trust, again all perfectly legitimate and a good way to go, when it comes to income. This was common practise back in the day in community centres - albeit they inevitably went pear- shaped in the end! 

As to the paid position of Community worker, I can only find reference to a fund of £30K a couple of years ago, that would pay a worker for a year - with oncosts, so the fund probably ran out - whoever gave them it, would expect to see financial and written reports about the project for which it was gained.

So it could be that Hannah is a volunteer  - because she is also a trustee, the Trustees can create 'special' unpaid job titles so that people who want that service can go directly to a named person.  There is no need for a recruitment process.   It's much the same as being nominated and elected to being a 'secretary' or 'chair'.  Whereas the membership usually vote on the trustee board positions, it would even be possible for the trustees to elect or at least give a mandate to someone to act in that role in between AGMs.  A trustee cannot be paid to do a job without the express permission of the Charity Commission.  It could be that someone has forgotten to remove Hannah form the trustee list, so they'd better get that sorted if they haven't done on of the other 2 things.

As it happens had this in an email circular from the CC this morning:
"
Does your charity have authority to employ trustees?
 
You need authorisation to pay or employ a trustee or someone who is related or otherwise connected to a trustee. This authority may be set out in your governing document or you may need to request it from us. Check your governing document; if it doesn't allow you to pay trustees, you may need to get our consent to:

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Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on May 01, 2015, 01:25:00 PM
>  charity's accounts.
 :2funny:

Anyone seen these??
Are they published? on web?

I remember a few AGMs in '00s where people asked for these and the name of an accountant.
Never got a name and there were no accounts or proper records of memberships.
Where are the records of such AGMs, and number of attendees.
How many members attended the last one? 
When was  the last AGM for the NMIPT? When is the next one?

Just ask them for numbers of their members?   They did claim 3000+  but can't provide any proper numbers.
Someone should check how much she was paid and if she was a Trustee at the time?
If so it should be reported.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Geoff Reid on May 01, 2015, 01:53:06 PM
The Mechanics Trust seem to be building their empire, but not with the building you'd expect, but any others they can find [url]http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html[/url] ([url]http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/do-mechanics-have-enough-volunteers.html[/url])


Interesting and thought provoking blog. Thanks :)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on May 01, 2015, 04:15:08 PM
>  charity's accounts.
 :2funny:

Anyone seen these??
Are they published? on web?

I remember a few AGMs in '00s where people asked for these and the name of an accountant.
Never got a name and there were no accounts or proper records of memberships.
Where are the records of such AGMs, and number of attendees.
How many members attended the last one? 
When was  the last AGM for the NMIPT? When is the next one?

Just ask them for numbers of their members?   They did claim 3000+  but can't provide any proper numbers.
Someone should check how much she was paid and if she was a Trustee at the time?
If so it should be reported.



Karsten, no charity can keep itself secret, you only have to go to the Charity Commission web page, enter the name or charity number and the accounts for the last five years are there before you.  I suggest you use the charity number which you will find on their web page as I always seem to have a problem with the search engine using names. 

I wouldn't get your knickers in a  twist about her being a trustee or not, very often people forget to change the details until it's time to do the annual return and the Trusts are up to date to the last time they should be in.  As I said they can nominate anyone of the
 trustees to fill a role within the org without paying them. Sometimes a business will second a person to fill a role - it's like donating money.

No one (charity or otherwise) can get a grant out of anywhere, without providing evidence of audited accounts.  No doubt someone somewhere in org has a list of members which they are required to keep.  If a trustee is paid, it's not likely you will see the documents between the charity commission and the org, because staff/employment documents are usually confidential for all the same reasons everyone else's is.

As to Swindoncentrics blog:  The Trust, some years ago extended (legally) it's objects to include a concern for the buildings in the area, those objects are also on the CC web page. Having done this for another org. myself I can assure readers that it's not an easy thing to do and the CC is fastidious in wording etc.  I also think it's a little out of date, seeing as the Trust have already taken over the Bakers and well on the way to taking over the little museum.

I would be very surprised if an AGM was not held although there is usually a little leeway in governing documents (constitutions and/or Memorandums etc.) to allow groups to over run the year - usually 15 months.

Karsten, if you are a member you should get hold of the Memorandum and Articles and see what your right are to see accounts. I wish the CC would have them up on its page but for some reason they don't. That's not the Trusts fault it's the same for everybody. Usually it is a written request to the treasurer. They have always had a treasurer and they must have them audited by an independent person. Usually chosen at the previous AGM.  If they raise over a certain amount, they might have to have a proper chartered accountant sign them off or if below that figure, then just an independent person. The latter being as rare as hens teeth, because you do need someone who can do the figure work - I know this from bitter experience I have an annual 'hunt the independent person' for the three sets of accounts I handle.  And Terry  has obliged me a couple of times (Thanks to him).   

There is absolutely no way they can get round this and no way would they get funding without it.

Members of the Trust should, of course, be interested in the objects of the Trust and not just on it to make trouble, they should collectively further the interests of the trust and of they don't like the management should, vote it off or join it.  The org. is only as good as its members, it is they who attend the meetings, vote for the trustees etc. Of course if they vote off trustees etc. they should be prepared to stand themselves and do a better job. 
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on May 02, 2015, 03:04:49 AM
Well Hannah is still one of 4 trustees (her mum is too) and if she was paid then it SHOULD be in the Trusts financial records.
except..
There are no financial accounts filed and there are none on the site and there is no accountant listed either?
They have only ever filed returns since 98,  no accounts and only listed income of 22.5k in 2014.
All their income is from grants.
That the Trust had no accountant was raised at many AGMs in early 00's by members.   I was one, even helped out in 98 when Mike Welch was in charge.
Been told that I am not a member now even though in the early days the £1 gave you life membership.

As far as I can check there are no accounts nor any details of their spending listed.
Which they should have done if a Trustee was being paid.


If you are in charge of a charity you might want to look deeper into NMIPT. 
Why do you think none of the other original trustees are still there?
Why has there not been a change in the trustees since 2000.
No accountant or accounts filed?

No proper fund raising and lot of activity for every thing else but the MI in my opinion.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Muggins on May 02, 2015, 09:24:08 AM
Karsten. 
The trust HAS filed their accounts or at least done their annual return to the Charity Commission.  The reason you can only see about 5 years back is because that's all the Charity Commission puts up on the site, i.e. when this years goes in, the first years drops off. 

There is no obligation or law which states they must publish their accounts on their own web site and very few charities do, in fact I know of no particular one that does. the obligation is to report them at AGM and if it says so in the Mem. and Art. they are obliged to send you a copy of you ask.  Of course sometimes it appears that accounts are a year out of date - don't know how many times I've had to explain this at AGMS.

As you and others have said, and I suspect, that the Trust doesn't raise much 'cash' by old fashioned methods i.e. tin rattling/jumble sales etc. so that means they have to apply to grant making trusts for any income.  To apply - and I do know what I'm talking about on this subject, they have to find a grant making trust who's 'giving' plan fits what they want to ask for.
i.e. if they want core costs i.e. to cover stationery, to pay the phone bill, stamps, heating lighting, insurance.  Well good luck with that one there is not many about that will cover that.

Mainly grants these days are for 'Projects'  some grant makers will give towards this but maybe in different categories.  Maybe Health (with varying aspects), maybe Heritage, maybe environmental etc.

Groups/orgs then apply and fill in a lengthy form, send it off with proof that they are functioning body - usually with Memorandum and articles, Annual reports and financial reports.
None of this is easy and it's a good group that has someone with the skills to do it, making what you want to get out of it fit the purpose of the grant.  You can also expect a phone interview from and independent adjudicator and if the grant is large - a visit! Some of the larger ones will allow staff costs. Of course to do that the group also has to have the set up to pay the person - and pay their taxes NHI etc. and must employ that person via Equal Opportunities process and know about employment process.  I know a couple of groups now, one whose worker is 'employed' by another group with the set up so to do and another group whose worker is self employed.  All perfectly legitimate. One thing about grants etc. usually you have to maintain some sort of relationship with the grant making bodies, so they know who you are anyway.

As I said most of the grant funding these days is time limited and the time allowed to spend is shrinking.  The grant will probably cover one year. At the end of that year, the group will be normally be asked  to provide the 'giver' with a written report of the activity achieved and the financial report for the grant given. 

There are a few potty people still giving the odd £500 and not bothering where it goes once it's given, but they are few and far between.

AS I said I would not get too wound up about Hannah's name still being on the Trustee list at CC, if she is a paid worker, it shouldn't be there, but its just an oversight that will no doubt be corrected when whoever in the org puts up the Annual return.  If her named position is NOT paid then she is still a trustee. I explained before that if she is paid and still a trustee and her mum is still on the board, then there may well be a special permission from the CC for her to do that.  All perfectly legitimate. I explained in my last posting how Hannah's 'job' might be working - all legitimate.

As to the few trustees on the Board, who's fault is that?    As long as it does not go below three, then its legitimate too.  Today trying to get people to sit around a table, get properly involved in what it means to be a charitable trustee is a shrinking world.  I suggest you look at a few more charities on the CC and see how many of them have the full ten or twelve trustees, there won't be many.  For all we know, those that have more, probably all but a few are 'sleeping' in between AGM's.  I would rather have three fully involved and knowing what they are doing trustees, than nine hanger on-ers putting all their trust in the three.

Of course there are people who bounce in and out of charity/groups and orgs, make a right pain the neck of themselves, fail to gain focus about the object in hand and cause no end of work for those who are striving to fulfil their obligations to the object and funders of the org. 

There are some who are enthusiastically willing to help, but can't get their head around the restrictions and no matter how much you explain to them that "no you can't do that because...." still fire off like loose cannon doing more harm than good.  Some stubbornly refuse to get on board with any training offered.  I know that the trustees of the Trust at present have all had that training, because that is where I've met them - at the training sessions/conferences/workshops/seminars etc.

Are you saying you were an accountant Karsten or a trustee?  Have you formally complained to anyone, if so how did you get on.? 

I can assure you that if they are getting leases and grants, their accounts have been well and truly checked.  Or are you saying there is some corruption going on right through them and the grant making trusts?

By the way - if you are a  registered charity and you don't file your accounts on time - you get several emails reminded you before and after the due date. After so long they knock on the door.  I repeat, the Trust HAS filed their accounts.   




Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: swindoncentric on October 28, 2015, 11:47:08 AM
More rumblings about the Mechanics'.

SBC = No SBC money to restore, buy or maintain it.

Mechanics' Trust = Want it owned and operated by the community.

Someone's going to have to blink first, I know where the smart money's going

http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-grade-ii-elephant-in-room.html (http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-grade-ii-elephant-in-room.html)
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: I Could Do That on October 28, 2015, 12:27:18 PM
Quote
Grade II* Elephant in the Room
Swindon Borough Council is making more positive noises about the Mechanics' Institute than for a while.

They have once again made it very clear that there is no SBC money to buy it, restore it, or run it.

However the Mechanics' Trust still keeps banging the drum for it being a community-owned and community-operated use.

That's okay then, the thousands of members of the Trust and the vast coffers they've swelled at the Trust, will support their plans.

So how many members and how much money does the always very-vocal Mechanics' Trust has backing them up?

As usual with these situations, if one "side" is wrong and the other "side" is also wrong then the solution can be found in the middle ground.

The trust do not need to provide income to preserve Swindon's heritage.
The trust do not need to own the building

On the other hand the building does not need to be destroyed or flogged off to an individual that has no interest in Swindon's history, heritage or culture.

Various parties could just get together, discuss all aspects, find common ground.
Multiple use = multiple incomes.
The Outlet Centre and the nearby university faculty are both expanding and this building is in the centre of it all.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: the gorgon on October 28, 2015, 12:33:27 PM
SBC selling it to a developer?

The frankly useless MI trust have failed (as far as I can tell) spectacularly to raise any serious funds to do anything with the building.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if they couldn't even afford to insure the building.

It's getting toward 30 years since the BR works shut down, if they'd been able to raise (and save) donations properly they could be sitting on quarter of a million by now.  That wouldn't fix the building but they could secure it properly, hopefully do any urgent repairs and hire some consultants who know how to draw up a business plan that will actually work and then get lottery funding. 

A proper decent business plan is key because a lot of money will be needed to sort the MI out and the various lottery organisations have had their fingers burnt by failures (i.e. money down the drain) that they are a lot more careful and would eat little boys like the MI trust for breakfast (and still be hungry because of their lack of substance).  The Commonwealth museum in Bristol is a nice local example, I think they had nearly £10m in lottery funds and closed down after about 5 years.  They aren't going to make those sorts of mistakes again.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on October 28, 2015, 10:30:17 PM
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.

EH could technically issue SBC with a Urgent Repairs Notice like SBC did to forefront estates. :fence:

There is a way to get the mechanics owned by a group interested in it.

10 people can petition the goverment to force a council to sell any of its buildings that are not in use.  councils then need to provide concrete plans for a building or put it up for sale at its official value.

So £1 then or maybe bit more if SBC pay for a new valuation. Last was in 2000 and for £1 by district surveyor

Most people don't care about it tho so nothing will happen....  :weed:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Spunkymonkey on October 28, 2015, 11:08:57 PM
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.

But wouldn't they have a public duty to sell it for more than £250,000 to get their money back?

Quote
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.

Is this correct? It certainly sounds very unfair. Are you suggesting that if a building owner goes bankrupt, the main creditor not only loses his money, but is potentially liable for maintaining the building? Do SBC own the MI in reality? I would have thought not, but if they do and are now liable for it, it looks like they have acted negligently by getting involved and exposing to the tax payer to a financial risk.

Quote
EH could technically issue SBC with a Urgent Repairs Notice like SBC did to forefront estates.

Equally, if the Mechanics Trust managed to buy it for £1, couldn't EH issue the trust with an Urgent Repairs Notice? Would that bankrupt the trust?

Quote
There is a way to get the mechanics owned by a group interested in it.

10 people can petition the goverment to force a council to sell any of its buildings that are not in use.  councils then need to provide concrete plans for a building or put it up for sale at its official value.

So £1 then or maybe bit more if SBC pay for a new valuation. Last was in 2000 and for £1 by district surveyor

If SBC do own the building, wouldn't they have a responsibility to sell to the highest bidder? Could it end up in the hands of another developer?

Alternatively, the council might be able to consider the best bid based on quality rather than price alone. In this case, could the MT win this bid given the threat of an Urgent Repair Notice? Wouldn't the council have a duty to ensure that any future owner had the means and immediate funding to preserve the building?

I don't wish to be negative, but this saga doesn't look any closer to a solution.  :surrender:
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Phil Chitty on October 30, 2015, 09:38:37 AM
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.



That's at best questionable. The BV division can at anytime disclaim the land and have title extinguished.

As to buying it for £1  - that's a bit misleading. BVD will want at least £1,000 plus valuer's fee plus costs.

The danger is that if any further urgent work is required for safety purposes, this cost will fall on SBC, with no recourse to anyone as BVD will not accept any liabilities.

As soon as anyone takes ownership they will become liable for any potential safety works. For this reason the NMIPT cannot sensibly seek to gain ownership, at least not until funding for it's repair is in place.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on June 08, 2017, 01:28:02 AM
wow last post 2015?

So does anyone want to try this?

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/right-to-contest (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/right-to-contest)
You can use Right to Contest to challenge government to sell land or property if you believe it’s not needed and
could be put to better economic use.
Land owned by a local authority or certain other public bodies the site is empty or under-used there are no plans
to bring it back into use

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269720/131216_Right_to_Contest_application_form_final.odt (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269720/131216_Right_to_Contest_application_form_final.odt)

from a letter I got back in 2014.. (see attachment)
"As an alternative for seeking a disposal from The Crown Estate you may wish to consider contacting the Council in order to investigate whether they would be prepared to sell the Property under their power of sale.  The reason for this is that a purchase from the Council under a power of sale will be free from all charges and encumbrances registered after the date of their charges which is something that The Crown Estate would be unable to do. "

The charge on plot 2 is really invalid as there were no roof repairs on that plot and ScS just ended up setting it on fire. :spin:
There are grounds to make an application of discharge of the existing 240k charge on grounds that no real roof repairs were done since EH called ScS roof repairs of plot 1 vandalism. also TSB's 2 500k charges were discharged by TSB to enable a better chance for the successful regeneration of the building.

It's clear to me that SBC have no plans since I quieried it in 2015.. the imminent plans they couldn't discuss never came to light. :bash:

so would people be interested in a creating community limited company and making a bid for it and issue a right to contest on SBC as they do have power of sale?

I'd do it for plot 2 and leave SBC with the scaffolding bill and plot 1 with the ScS repaired roof.
Turn the light back on.
Maybe ask Luke Skywalker to show his Star Wars museum in it to raise funds.. Get the Art college to display students art in part of it..
Offer them a permanent exhibition..  Maybe students can have re-glazing windows as projects 
At least something is better than 20 yrs of no fund raising and no action.
if it fails limited company loses its deposit.. couple of pounds and building goes back to Crown a second time to deselect and sell off.
if it works, Swindon slowly gets a 'Mini me' Camden Market project?

If there is any success we could ask
- SBC to give free of charge the remaining plot 1 including the cost of keeping scaffolding holding the roof up.

Camden Market slowly but surely developed into one of London top tourists attractions.
The Mech is dead centre between Brunel centre, Outlet village via tunnel, station, Railway village, 'Barracks etc...

As for moving the art Museum I think that is different unrelated matter.. 
Art Exhibition centre though? - I did talk to Art College in 2000 and they did say they would be interested in a permanent exhibition space. 
So did 'Luke' for his SW museum a few back.

Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on June 08, 2017, 09:21:21 AM
Karsten, thanks for your post, I take on board what you have said and as someone who has lived here apart from army service, all my life, as a 4 year old, my family lived in 2a Emlyn Square and used to go to many shows in the theatre. I live in hope that this building can be saved. Its history and importance will never be replaced, and if it goes will never be replaced.  the days are marching on, how much longer will be it, before someone comes up and says it is now beyond repair and is to be knocked down, all through lack of effort.
Please keep on with your efforts and keep us all informed of any progress.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on December 12, 2017, 09:37:33 AM
one update is that I have bid £1000 for the South side of the building  to SBC as they have Power of Sale due to their 240k charge on the property.
I attached the letter I got from the Crown's solictiors stating that they have Power of sale.

FYI South Part of MI is the 1890 extention ; that is the Reading Hall and old Council meeting halls, and is registered as one plot.  Its the bits with a roof in front of the Flying Tower.

I believe ForeFront ltd deroofed the North part to 'repair' the damage on the south roof done during the previous owners reign.
Probably sold the suplus tiles.

I need 10 stakeholders to help me petetion the Government  asking that SBC come up with a use for the building within 6 months or be forced to sell it at its valuation. 
Last official one was in 2000 and was £1. 
I think even an updated one would be same value.

Doubt it will come to anything.. SBC will probably ignore it. 
Mind you no harm in trying.

Who knows they might be glad to get rid of the liability.
In 6 months, I will start pestering EH to issue a Urgent Repairs notice.. to SBC as they have Power of Sale  and now have had a bid on the Southern part.


Karsten.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on December 16, 2017, 12:44:30 PM
Kirsten, I don't know if you read the council leaders weekly column in the adver this week, but he more or less washed his hands of the building, saying they don't own it and therefore are not responsible for any repairs required. Forward Swindon are full of ideas about regenerating the town and so is the lady from the new adver column about Swindon to, or whatever it is called, ask them....
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on December 17, 2017, 03:59:23 AM
read the attached letter from the Crown's solicitors.

It clearly states that SBC have the Power of sale as they are now the sole charge holder and insist on keeping the charge.

I have been told SBC could easily take ownership but do not want the responsibility and prefer to let the building disintegrate further without an owner.
In my opinion it means SBC are an accomplice in the dereliction of the building.

The building is for sale and has been since 2014  .. SBC could take ownership or simply sell it to recover its charge.

The building could be bought from Salmon Burgess for £5000 + 900 + 2500++.  so about ~ £8-10k.. 
or from SBC for its last official valuation in 2000 (£1) if they wanted to.


No one is going to pay £400k which is the charge SBC have on it.

The bank with drew two £500,000 charges for the 2 mortgages Forefront had on the 2 plots and said it was to give the building a chance at a future.  (perhaps also to avoid questions about why the mortgages were given in first place)
SBC should follow suit.
Weren't the urgent repairs done by ScS described as "vandalism?   
Partial roof collapse and a fire, with EH refusing to pay the £250k grant as SBC hadn't consulted them about the unauthorised repairs.
 
PS Emailed Renard about his SA article and sent him the letter from Salmon Burgess.  So Renard is aware, so is the Heritage Minister.
I doubt they will any of them will acknowledge SBCs Power of Sale tho.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on July 25, 2018, 05:23:27 PM
Guess Talkswindon is dead.. not a lot of posts in here..

Does anyone interested in the MI want to help me sort out ForeFRont Estates ltd after they have been restored 30 th Aug 2017?

Any ideas?
Complain to Isolvency service  & Fraud Action.  companies house. not in their remit !!  HSBC.. don't want to know keep passing me back to Indian Call Center.

Councilllors?   Silent when there is a problem.. Like to be heard during an election.
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Terry Reynolds on July 25, 2018, 05:33:31 PM
Kirsten, would love to help in anyway you want, but now feel the best option for the building now to raise it to the ground and start again.. all we get is sound bites, and more sound bites, the council are worthless in doing anything apart from spending our money. and the building slowly falling down.. a complete eyesore now and not a thing doing about it..
take care and best of luck, any help wanted is there...
Title: Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
Post by: Karsten on July 26, 2018, 12:41:19 AM
So there is some life yet in talkswindon.

I did just try to buy the south part.. wish I did it a year ago.. might have suceeded.

Might still just need to undo the restoration of Forefront..
complained to Companies House, Insolvency, HSBC to no avail..

next thought maybe make inland Revenue aware?  Banking ombudsman? 
English Heritage did have the power to compulsary purchase back before 2010 but never did.
Wonder if Historic England has same power?
SBC does but doesn't want to :-(

Ask Charles?  Nah what help would that do.. and how?

Anyone got an idea of how to scupper Forefront restoration so the building can have an owner..

I agree the North is little more than a ruin, but the South edition is still worthy of saving. It's moth balled weather tight (sort of)better than when Mountmead owned the MI.
Singh did as he promised and made the North roof rot.
But even shells of grand building can become new again..

Not as NMIPT envisage it though.. you need to think outside the box and attach money not just ask for it.

If I did get a bid accepted.. I'd invite people to de-veg the South part..

Any company formation lawyers read this?