Monday 5 October 2015

The evangelical boiler - Jane's prayers are answered...

As regular readers will be aware, the council's relationship with the Towy Community Church has often featured on this, and Cneifiwr's blog. 

The council played a significant part, around £1.5m, in bankrolling Phase 1 of the Xcel Centre (the evangelical bowling alley) despite questions being raised about the real ambitions of the evangelical church which is running the project. Unfortunately these ambitions became even less clear after their website disappeared a couple of years ago, shortly after earlier 'visions' for a home for 'fallen women' re-surfaced on its pages.

Back in March the church found themselves in breach of the legal agreement with the council by occupying some of the space in the building which they weren't supposed to until Phase 2 had been agreed.

Unlike the rest of us who may have been marched off to court or some such fate, the Church were instead graced with a benevolent visit from the entire Executive Board.

As I said at the time, the Board must have returned to the chamber diffused with a spiritual and biblical glow, and the chief executive, understood to be an ardent devotee of the Good Book himself, even offered to organise similar trips for the whole council.

As the Members reminisced over their trip, Exec Board Member for Social Care, Jane Tremlett (Ind) expressed a desire for the council to 'facilitate' a £20,000 grant for a new boiler..for the new part they weren't supposed to be occupying (The 'amended' legal agreement, naturally a mere formality by then, was duly rubber stamped).

This was particularly poignant as a couple of week's before this she had voted in favour of the budget which controversially slashed £18,000 off the funding for a Carmarthen special school for autistic children.

Lo and behold, those executive prayers have been answered and up for Meryl's rubber stamp later this week is a £10,000 council grant towards a new boiler. Not the full amount, but not bad considering the church was supposed to be financing Phase 2 without public cash. The glowing financial projections within the report suggest an extra income of nearly half a million pounds based on the hiring out of the meeting rooms and offices, warmed by the boiler.

Those expressing an interest in occupying space include Carmarthenshire County Council itself. This seems to be becoming a habit; facilitate and bankroll a developer, charge peppercorn rent for 100 years, then use taxpayers money to pay rent to the said developer for office space, thus providing a steady stream of revenue for the 'partner'. Parc Y Scarlets and Eastgate being two examples.

The proceeds from the bowling alley are to be ploughed back into the community, and to that end the church runs a foodbank and a furniture recycling shop. However, as I said above, Phase 2 of the development is also supposed to be financed by the bowling alley and this includes a 600 seater 'auditorium', the word 'church' is avoided. Included in the list of other parties expressing an interest in hiring space are the church itself, it's youth group, and various organisations offering evangelical leadership training days.

The issue all along with the council's involvement with the Towy Community Church was whether the generous funding was aimed to provide a truly community based venture, open to all, or whether public money was being used, with the knowledge and blessing of the council's top brass, to further the ambitions of fundamentalist Christian evangelism.

Back in March, the Herald featured a Cadno opinion piece on "God's own bowling alley" and is well worth a read;  The Carmarthenshire Herald; The fox is on the case
For further background please search this and Cneifiwr's blog.


Patricia B said...

£10.000???...... and there's me still waiting for the £1.000 as recommended by the Ombudsman for the loss of our amenities over a period of eleven years helped and condoned by the planning department and indeed Mark James!

Anonymous said...

One has to be sensible here and remember that we are talking about Carmarthen Council.
How could funds for a special school for autistic children ever compete with need for a boiler in part of the Towy church!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

£20k for a boiler?!!!!

What planet does this council live on? Or is it being installed with platinum pipes and fittings?

The sooner this bunch are gone the better and I refer to reverend mark james and all his council clergy.

Anonymous said...

I am very reassured by this news. I will sleep happier from now on in the knowledge that if my boiler needs replacing I can ask the Council to fund it for me........or maybe not! I have no understanding of why my contributions to this Council paid through Council tax are funding expenditure like this. This is not the role of a LA , someone needs to get a grip on this lot!

Anonymous said...

What is becoming abundantly clear is that Plaid is taking the same miry course of the previous administration.They are all singing in unison from Brother Mark James's hymn book