18th March 2021
A response to Cllr Renard’s Swindon Advertiser article on 18/3/2021
A response to Cllr Renard
Dear Cllr Renard
Before I start I wish to clarify that when I use the terms YOU/YOUR etc I’m not necessarily referring to you as a person. I’m using ‘you’ as a metonymy for the body for which you work (the cabinet and/or the Conservative group – not however many other employees are in those offices) and which you represent. I trust you’ll appreciate the difference where it’s applicable.
Attitude is all
Over the last couple of days, I’ve written much about the Oasis. But what has driven my fingers back to my keyboard in a mixture of astonishment, bewilderment and fury, is your comment in this morning’s Swindon Advertiser.
Shining like a super-trooper from that piece – indeed from the very heading itself: Oasis dome is at the end of its life – it’s time for a modern leisure centre – is, it seems to me, a lamentable lack of humility and an awful lot of paternalistic, patronising arrogance.
What that heading, and the contents of your piece, scream to me, is ‘daddy knows best. The medicine is nasty but it’s good for you’.
Said Cllr Renard:
‘I for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed Historic England does not grant it listed status because it is time to give the Oasis a new lease of life and many more families treasured memories.’
Seriously? What leader of a council that purports to care about its town’s heritage would even say such a thing?!
Are you so completely out of touch with those you’re supposed to be serving? Whether we voted for you or not!? I’m speechless! Well … almost … That’s a simply appalling thing to say – and an excuse!
And the whole point, the one that you’ve missed with such brilliance, is that the ‘plan’ (I use that word with reluctance) you’ve put forward takes away the very thing that makes the Oasis the Oasis.
It’s plain dishonest to put it forward as giving ‘the Oasis a new lease of life and many more families treasured memories’ when it’s nothing of the sort.
That’s a plan for a leisure centre not the Oasis. Let’s be clear on that. I’ve already banged on about that so no need to over-egg that particular pudding.
Who says it’s time for a modern leisure centre? Apart from you because that fits your particular narrative I mean.
Where is the hard evidence that the dome is environmentally and economically unviable? By which I mean unbiased reports from such organisations as the Twentieth Century Society, RIBA and Historic England. Or any other credible organisation that could produce reliable evidence of what you’re all too willing to claim.
Show that to Swindonians who don’t want to lose what matters about the Oasis – its very form – and they might listen. Show – don’t tell. PLEASE.
Playing devils’ advocate
So, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that you do have hard evidence of the unviability of the dome and you genuinely can’t make it work, some humility, some regret, some acknowledgement of feeling and desires of your citizens wouldn’t come amiss.
How about, instead of telling us that it’s time for a new leisure centre, you preface presentations of that ilk with something like:
‘We appreciate how much the dome/insert name of heritage asset in question, means to you. We’ve explored every option to the Nth degree, it simply doesn’t add up and this is why …
And we’re sorry. We regret that BUT – we can do this instead ….‘
But no – you go all didactic and TELL us what’s good for us. And worse – you do it all the time.
Sorry really is the hardest word it seems.
In increasing sadness and increasing frustration – a Swindon enthusiast.
PS: Going off topic a bit: I am prepared to accept with good grace a dome-less facility if I’m assured that all avenues have been explored to save the dome. But have they? Therein lies the rub eh?