Monday 23 January 2017

Mapledurham Pavilion: One Year on from Closure

Saturday 21 January marked a year since Reading Borough Council (RBC) closed the majority of Mapledurham Pavilion to the public.  In advance of this unwelcome anniversary the Warren and District Residents Association (WADRA) sent me a letter urging me to take the following action immediately:
  • Request RBC to prepare Tender Documents for the refurbishment work, based on recent survey works
  • RBC to invite Tenders for the work from local contractors asap
I copy below my response to WADRA:

Dear Robin

Thank you for your letter dated 19 January 2017.

It is highly regrettable that the main part of Mapledurham Pavilion has been closed to the public since 21 January last year.

You will be aware that on numerous occasions I have highlighted at public RBC meetings (Policy Committee and MPF Sub Committee) the huge difficulties/inconvenience this is causing User Groups.  I have repeatedly stated the User Groups’ request for the Pavilion to be refurbished/rebuilt as soon as possible.  In answer to your two questions, back in March 2016 I formally asked Cllr Lovelock, Leader of RBC: 

  • To ensure that there was no further delay in rebuilding and reopening the Pavilion for RBC to undertake the preparatory work including obtaining the necessary permissions to allow tenders to be advertised in 3 months’ time to implement the rebuilding of the Pavilion in partnership with WADRA
  • Advertise tenders immediately it is clear that the Pavilion will be unaffected by proposals from the EFA
  • This preparatory work should be undertaken within RBC’s revenue costs and not charged to the capital fund allocated for the rebuilding
However, my request for the above three points to be added to the Policy Committee’s recommended actions was not granted at that time.

Moving forward to 15 December 2016, you may remember as you were present that at the last MPF Management Committee meeting, RBC’s report to the Sub Committee for 20 December was discussed (Agenda item 5, Pavilion’s condition and the draft accounts).  Grant Thornton stated that RBC’s Property Services had been commissioned to reassess the options and costs for refurbishment and/or partial rebuilding of the Pavilion.

I would draw your attention to paragraph 4.7 where the report stated that “the affordability of this work [complete refurbishment or partial rebuilding] will not be known until this assessment is undertaken and the funding is limited to the £85k currently in the Council’s capital programme.  It is believed WADRA’s position remains that they are unwilling to release funds until any proposal from the EFA to build a school on the Playing Fields is rejected”.

My recollection of the Sub Committee’s outcome was that the following action was agreed: “That a decision is made on either refurbishing or replacing Mapledurham Pavilion after both the implications of any proposals from the Education Funding Agency, or other parties, are considered and affordability established”.  In other words, the go ahead was given for officers to prepare tender documents for the refurbishment work.

Agreement needed to prevent further delay

I hope you will agree with me that as soon as RBC’s Property Services have prepared the specification and other necessary documents in order to be able to let a tender for the refurbishment/partial rebuilding of the Pavilion there should be no delay.  Also that there should be a commitment that RBC’s Section 106 monies and the fund raised monies in WADRA’s bank account will be released so that works can commence.

In order to release the community funds explicitly raised for the refurbishment/rebuilding of the Pavilion, please will WADRA’s committee reconsider its decision to withhold these funds until the EFA’s proposal is ruled out?  Officers in the past have made it clear that RBC’s £85k is an insufficient amount in itself to pay for the minimum works necessary to reopen the Pavilion.

I look forward to hearing from you once you have consulted your committee.

Kind regards