2nd July 2021

Important Development for Save Oasis Swindon Campaign

Important Development for SOS Campaign
This week, the SOS campaign saw an important development.

Right out of the blue Damien Siviter, part of SevenCapital’s executive team contacted the campaign, requesting a meeting. Thus, on Wednesday of this week, two campaign representatives, Tony Hillier and Neil Robinson headed to the Park Lane, London offices of the development company.

The ultimate upshot of a fruitful meeting is a three-way media release, between the SOS campaign, Swindon Borough Council and SevenCapital.

Read the official press release here via Swindon link.

Note: There was much negotiation between all interested parties about the wording of this media statement. The campaign stresses that SevenCapital showed much willingness for the campaign to be as comfortable as possible that what went into the press release reflected their goals. Thus SevenCapital agreed not to publish anything until all parties were comfortable.

The meeting discussed much that the campaign is not at liberty to publicly discuss. Such as why they were met with blanket radio silence from SevenCapital. But what the campaign can say is that it seems that SevenCapital never had any intention of removing the leisure facilities from that site. How serious they were about that hastily drawn CGI put out to Swindonians back in March is unclear. But the important point is that channels of communication are now open.

The campaigners took the opportunity of the meeting to present Mr Siviter with physical copies of all the information they’ve gathered from a range of expert witnesses. Information that points to preserving the iconic dome – a key thrust of the campaign – to be entirely possible. And, what’s more, possible in a sustainable and ecological way.

 The onus now rests on SevenCapital to prove absolutely that they cannot save the dome before Swindonians will consider accepting a replacement leisure centre. One that may well be very fine but will not be the Oasis that we know and love.

Important Development for SOS Campaign  - graphic of Oasis with palm tree

An aside

So above I’m writing as a member of the SOS campaign team. What’s coming now is my voice – me – Angela Atkinson as a Swindonian – albeit one with experience of the campaign. But speaking for ME and NOT for the campaign.

When Cllr Renard says in the official press release (link above): ‘ We’ve consistently said that SevenCapital’s plans are the best way forward for the Oasis, and securing its future has always been my top priority, I’m not sure if he’s on this earth or Fuller’s Earth. #sorry #notsorry

He, and in particular a certain member of his Cabinet have indeed been consistent. They’ve been consistent in stonewalling, deflecting, belittling and blocking concerned constituents and the SOS campaign itself on social media. This from public servants who are PAID TO LISTEN TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS. And being blocked by this person, means the campaign can’t respond.

 I’m neither imagining nor exaggerating all this. Too many constituents have experienced it and know it. Thus there’s huge irony in the alluded to Cabinet member now accusing the SOS campaign of antagonism.

Experience of the past few months and what transpired at this meeting have made evident that clearer communications and less pathetic political posturing from the town’s administrative party would have made this whole sorry saga much less fraught than it became over the last few months.

The needless and endless deflection that simply angered and frustrated residents is nothing but self-defeating and exhausting for all.

A quick recap: this meeting between SevenCapital and the SOS campaign happened because SevenCapital contacted the campaign and requested a meeting. SBC played NO PART in this step forward and must not be allowed to claim any credit for it.


In summary

The SOS campaign sees this development as a cause for cautious optimism for the future of the Oasis. But of course, much can happen in the next few months. As Swindon Viewpoint said on the end of one of the many splendid videos they made at the campaign’s recent rally, the Oasis isn’t saved until the doors swing open again.

So, there is still much to do and the campaign is in dire need of practical help. So, if you feel you can get involved, wave!

But for now, the campaign awaits the results of the listing application.

And on that note, an important reminder because there appears not to be clarity on this point. It wasn’t the SOS campaign that submitted the listing application. In th first instance an unknown individual submitted a listing application – soon followed by another one from the 20thCentury society.

After initial resistance, the campaign does now support the listing application yes. But that isn’t the same as being the instigator of it. There’s a world of difference in those two chunks of discourse. 

For more on the Oasis, root around here: https://swindonian.me/category/the-oasis/

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