Safeguard buildings for the future

In 2009 David Cameron came to Bath Place, Leamington, to talk about amongst other things, the big society, at the most enduring and arguably the biggest ‘big society’ project in the area.

The fact that hundreds of thousands of people have passed through its doors at the old site and now the old library and old art gallery complex makes the demise of these three sites tantamount to an insult to the people of Leammington and beyond in what are some of the few publicly owned buildings still left and unequivocably part of the Leamington area’s top ten tourist attractions.

Now here’s where the stupefyingly inane logic of the big society starts to unravel. You can’t have big society projects without big buildings for numerous reasons, including health and safety plus numerous other regulations the charity and social welfare world has to abide by. Also you can’t expect the 99 per cent of people on average who volunteer to be able to afford to buy their community buildings.

This is where the Government as the remaining one per cent in the big society has to honour its pledge or the whole concept is worthless. In this case a public building bequeathed to the people of Leamington and beyond, to remain a public asset for all to enjoy, not people stuck in ivory towers-style luxury apartments as a result of its redevelopment.

This is why I implore our MP Chris White to get in touch with David Cameron and get the ‘big society bank’ and ‘big society capital’ to release the £1 million needed to save Bath Place, as the ‘BS’ bank has at least £40 million in it to help big society causes all over the country. Otherwise our Prime Minister is guilty of building people’s hopes up and making the big society project an untenable, erroneous concept due to the inability to keep important public buildings open.

After all the Bath Place community venture could never function in a one room cottage for instance.

Finally, we should ask our local MPs to amend details in the policy and planning framework to make it illegal for councils to sell off publicly-owned buildings so we can safeguard them for the future. - D.M. Douglas, Kinross Road, Leamington.