• Monday, June 27, 2022

News

Swindon Council faces fresh calls to find replacement temple after closure

Council said the temple on Darby Close was forced to shut.

By: Benjamin Paessler

SWINDON COUNCIL faces fresh calls to reopen a Hindu Temple in the city, three months after the temple on Darby Close was forced to shut.

The Advertiser reported last October how a Hindu community leader in Swindon expressed his sadness and shock after Swindon Borough Council ended the lease for their temple with immediate effect.

The council said it was forced to shut the building due to safety issues following a fifth break-in at the temple on Darby Close.

In its letter the council said that due to the level of damage, it was not able to reinstate the building, leaving it unfit for occupation.

“As you know the council has had an ongoing concern about the level of malicious damage caused to the building as a result of the theft of cabling and the SSE substation,” it said.

“The council has no alternative other than to recognise the advice of Hartnell Taylor Cook that the premises are unfit for occupation.

“The council is unable to repair the building at this time as such works are dependent on SSE completing works to its substation and no timeframe has been provided for carrying these out.”

Hindus around the world then expressed concern about the closure.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said that it was “a case of ill-treatment of minorities in England”.

Coun Keith Williams said an independent survey highlighted a number of issues with the building from a health and safety perspective.

He said: “The building got broken into, cabling was damaged, the electricity substation for the building was damaged. As a result, there were concerns over the earthing of the electrics. That was one of the factors.

“The generator that we put in, that has been connected through to the earth was only intended to be run for short periods.

“So, what legal basis advice was that actually we can’t allow people, we do need to act today.

“The front part of the building is being used for some temple purposes. It obviously generates fumes because it’s a generator. They thought for short periods of time the fume levels wouldn’t build up, but they had a concern that long periods of running, that would be a problem.”

Now, Labour councillors will submit a motion at Thursday (20) night’s full council meeting, calling for the cabinet to produce a report which will determine “how and when premises can be found which will accommodate both temporary and permanent Hindu Temple(s) within Swindon”.

The motion says: “This Council notes that since the withdrawal of the lease on premises at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate the Hindu community in Swindon have nowhere to worship in the town.”

It adds: “In addition, this council also calls on the scrutiny committee to undertake an investigation as to how the lease on temporary premises at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate came to be withdrawn and why no suitable alternative premises have been offered to the Hindu community.”

Councillor Jim Grant will move the motion and Councillor Imtiyaz Shaikh will second it.

Coun Grant believes having an open temple will attract people to Swindon from all across the world.

He said: “The Hindu community was promised that they would be found somewhere in Swindon [after the closure in October]. That promise appears not to have been delivered.

“All councillors want a temple somewhere for all groups and that is still the case, and a temple in Swindon would attract visitors or permanent residents from all round the world”.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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