Finally, after much waiting and wondering how much longer this could be drawn out the extremely unpopular plan to demolish the popular Glynn Edwards Hall in Acocks Green has been withdrawn: check it out here: Glynn Edwards Hall demolition plan withdrawn However, just when you thought it was safe to get back into the Baptist Church Hall (without first checking to see if those impressively solid Arts and Crafts style rafters underneath the modern ceiling insulation tiling are about to come down about your ears) … it seems the plan proposers have already been busy again.
If you live around the Glynn Edwards you may indeed have already been one of the lucky recipients of this letter, which we reproduce below, explaining how it will be business as usual as Glynn Edwards Hall Demolition Plan Proposal Mark three hundred and something will swing into action some time or other, but doubtless not before lots more loot has flow out of the Stockfield Community Association coffers rather than been spent on improvements to the Estate.
Everyone concerned about the Glynn Edwards, but Stockfield residents in particular, may be interested to read below about the money which has flown out from Estate in the past few years, without a penny being seen by residents. How much more is to be spent in this way?
Stockfield Spending – Glynn Edwards Hall Plans: 2005 -Present
In 2005 we learn from the 2005 Stockfield Community Association Report that :
The Association is actively pursuing the provision of a Community Facility and other Community Programmes for the benefit of residents of the Stockfield Estate. The Association has set aside a reserve of Â£250,000 to meet the associated costs, of which Â£160,000 remains unspent.
You can read that report the Stockfield Community Association – Annual Report 2005 here – see p. 10.
What happened to that Â£160,000? By December 2007 this figure had been boosted to Â£186,021.00 out of which Â£16,835.00 had been spent. See p.10 (page no. printed on doc.) of Stockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2007 In 2008 Â£15,302.00 of Â£169,86.00 was spent – See p. 11 of the report: Stockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2008
After that things start to liven up more because in this year an additional Â£96,111.00 was transferred into the ‘Community Facility’ account to bring it back up to Â£250,000. By this point our good friends at Apec Architects had been engaged and were beginning to carry out ‘feasibility studies’. However, architects who carrying out feasibility studies and drawing up plans do not come cheap. Various meetings were held and material was produced. Matters really took off, along with those flying pounds, at the end of 2010 when, as we see on p 9 and p. 10 forStockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2010 a sum of Â£41,647.00 was spent on the eternally planned ‘community facility’.* The logical conclusion though would seem to be that this is the sum which funded glossy designs and a 3D model which were produced for an earlier, informal, plan shown in the neighbourhood, but not submitted to Planning, in 2010. During 2011 a further plan was drawn up for display, complete with many drawings and a 3D model and this became the plan just abandoned, which was submitted to Birmingham City Council Planning Department as a Planning Application last June. We learn on pages 10 and 11 of the Stockfield – Accounts – End 2011 that a further Â£28,567.00 was paid to ACBC Design Works for works on the never appearing ‘community facility’* There is probably more spending to be revealed in the pipe line. This is information which appears within the public realm. Next accounts, which will cover 2012, are due to be filed at Companies House on 31 March 2013. (Will they appear on time, or will they as has been a pattern with Stockfield recently, be filed late?) We also include the above information here because accounts no longer appear on the SCA website.
So, to date: how we are doing?
Wow! We only have accounting information for up to the end of 2011 but So far Stockfield would appear to have spentat least Â£102,351.00on a non-appearing community facility which involves demolishing a much loved and attractive church hall in order to impose something new upon a community which clearly (even their own letter somewhat haltingly acknowledges this) does not want it!! To date they are nowhere with this scheme, but have now announced that they are literally going back to the drawing board? Why? If you live on Stockfield what else would you like your money to be spent on? Is everything in your property up-to-date and working? No repairs needed? No additional facilities you would like or need in your own home on Stockfield? If the situation is otherwise why not drop a line to Stockfield and tell ’em now? You can do this simply by emailing the contact given on the letter: [email protected] We are sure they would love to hear from you with your alternative suggestions about how another 100K might be spent before the board goes back to its favourite hobby of funding unwanted plans for the Glynn Edwards.
The Stockfield/Baptist Rationale
Two reasons have been continually put forth, with the plan proponents frequently and somewhat dizzingly switching between the two. Now two separate and unrelated reasons or explanations for something generally attract suspicion don’t they? Don’t the police tend to say: ‘Which is it then?’
Reason 1: ‘Facilities’
The area needs more ‘facilities’. Exactly what ‘facilities’ might these be? This was seldom spelled out. Closer inspection of the last plans strongly suggested that since most of the facilities would have been taken up by the well funded Jericho organisation most of the money would have been going into a Jericho employment training centre, complete with Jericho style ‘training’ kitchen, a cafe facing the road (which is partly why the existing Glynn Edwards ‘had’ to go) and five counselling rooms. Five counselling rooms? It was somewhat implied in one meeting held by the proposers that this was for the dysfunctional, chaotic drug-ridden unemployed lot of us who live around here: drug addiction counselling came up as a theme rather a lot. However, police have informally confirmed that there is no marked drug problem in the vicinity of the Glynn Edwards and council statistics show that unemployment in Acocks Green is slightly lower than average. We now have it on good authority though that, despite some earlier signs of support, Jericho have now changed their minds, stated that they do not wish to have a facility in Acocks Green anyway. After the long pause when council officers first made it clear to the plan proposers that the present design would be recommended for refusal, this about-turn by Jericho may go also go quite a long way towards explaining the present climb down.
Reason 2: ‘The Stat Listed 1903 Arthur Moore Hall next door is falling down. This is the only way to save it’
Oh yeah? A party of us, including local MP John Hemming and well known Birmingham Conservation Architect and Conservation Panel member Joe Holyoak visited the very lovely but battered Arthur Moore Hall last August
Everyone agreed (and Joe and John were happy to put it in writing) that The Arthur Moore isnot falling down. What it does need fairly urgently is some TLC. For example, as any property owner will tell you, properties tend to become damp and to develop mould patches when damp is allowed to enter unchecked: a stitch in time saves nine.
Perhaps, for example, there could have been a congregation whip around to pay for some sticky tape to cover over this window? The damp entering here is clearly responsible for some of the damage inside the upper hall. The link above shows in much more detail many similar, and even worse, instances of the same kind of problem. Obviously sticky tape will not see to all the problems, but a little modest attention would have helped some of these problems getting worse. However, in 2009 it was planned that Stockfield would buy a lease on The Arthur Moore. This could have made a proper facility for Stockfield people (Rather than an unemployment/counselling centre … ) and given Acocks Green Baptists the right funding to do up the Arthur Moore, which we estimated needed, and still needs fairly urgently, around Â£100,000-Â£120,000 spent on it. It is a reasonable sum of money … about the same as that which has now been thrown at unwanted plans for the Glynn Edwards.
Who suggested that the only way to fund the relatively minor repairs on The Arthur Moore was to demolish and rebuild The Glynn Edwards and then to make money on that building by leasing most of it to Jericho? This wonderfully contorted sounding scheme was the idea of the architects’ firm. We could say more on these charming individuals. (People who have met them will know what we mean.) For now we are biding our time and waiting to see whether the Baptist/Stockfield letter is a purely a face-saving exercise with no serious plans behind it and also waiting to see whether or not the same architects’ firm will be engaged again if the letter means what it says.
Watch this space.
* Presumably ACBC Design Works which appears in the 2010 and 2010 SCA Accounts is a misprint for Apec, or was there also another organisation involved; maybe one of the parties involved would care to clarify?