Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Prince, The Council & The Mechanics' Mystery

The air over Swindon is thick with claim and counterclaim regarding the latest plan for the Mechanics' Institute.

Swindon Borough Council has been in discussions with the Prince's Regeneration Trust since 2010 about getting something done with the Railway Village building. The problem of perception seems to have dominated, with the Council refusing to come out with even a scant outline of what they're trying to achieve with this charity.

However, if we dig a little, we may find something. Several councillor have already mentioned, been mentioning the organisation's name in reference to the Mechanics' for months now, but with the same vagueness for specifics. Back on Wednesday 13th July, at that day's cabinet meeting, there was a reference to the Mechanics' in that meeting (if you've clicked on the link you'll need the bottom of page 28), which went like this... (please be aware the context this part was in the section about the possible transfer of the Council's housing stock to another organisation and the proposed ballot that would take place)

'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. There is nonetheless the scope to explore possible joined up options for taking forward the Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s proposals alongside the transfer offer. These particular costs would not fall on the Housing Revenue Account. Furthermore the ballot would not prevent consideration of a solution for the Mechanics that took into account the wider Railway Village.

Quite a meaty passage isn't it? However, if we combine it with what we already know, it tells us a great deal. There is no-way the Council will pay for full or even partial restoration of the Mechanics' and at the same time, it's keen (and actively seeking) to rid itself of it's council housing stock, as it costs a great deal to maintain and upgrade. Plus, we know that the Mechanics', the Railway Village houses and the former Works site are collectively known under the loose term, 'Great Western Historic Area'. So, when the transferring of housing stock occurs (there seems to be no other option being tabled) is it not sensible that a Railway Village house will be deemed and treated differently to a non-listed council house?

Swindon Centric Says ; Is Swindon Borough Council proposing having the Railway Village housing stock deemed separate and of special interest and combining it's transfer to another organisation with the other side of the bargain being long-term restoration of the Mechanics', whilst the lucrative asset transfer of the Railway Village houses occurs?

Thoughts anyone?

Whilst I await feedback, I'll have a cup of tea and a Duchy Original Oaten Biscuit.

1 comment:

Karsten said...

Duchy biscuit?

Aren't you supposed to be impartial.. You have clearly been bribed by Charles and his minions.