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ASSEMBLY ROOMS BLUEPRINT: The council's dodgy dossier

(March 19, 2011)
THE Blueprint for the future of the Assembly Rooms has been released by the town council in the form of a draft business plan for the building.
After such a long wait it should be a case of 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever' but the plan is more the work of Edgar Allan Poe than John Keats.
It contains meaningless jargon, creative accountancy, poor English, extra charges and makes some very unrealistic assumptions - oh yes, they've even invented a new sort of room at The Athenaeum!
The serious stuff is in the figures columns which shows future generations will be paying  £41,100 in loan costs each year but the council will try to gloss over this by using a ruse popular in bigger councils by charging itself the commercial rent for the use of its own building - £37,200.
Doing such a thing is normal through local government we are told. Well it is in big councils where the cost of administration needs to be defrayed fairly across a wide range of differing budget heads and services - but on a parish council? Pull the other one.
''As far as I'm concerned this is mere artifice and sophistry on the part of the council in order to cover its tracks,'' said VFW's Steve Dancey.
On top of this ruse it believes that it can let out its old offices at Dewey House (cramped and no good we were told) for £25,350 a year.
The business plan also assumes that the income from hiring the facility will jump from £31,600 in 2009-10  to £70,900 in 2017.
''This is totally unrealistic - buildings such as the Assembly Rooms are out of step with the 21st century and the outturm figure for 2009 was well short of what was forecast,'' added Steve Dancey.
''Don't they ever learn?
''People today want either grandeur and heritage such as the Town Hall or modern luxury not tarted up 1960s tat which deserves to be pulled down.''
Then there's the extra bills for organisations that currently get the building at a reduced rate.
Charity groups, the police for neighbourhood tasking, Macmillan and Marie Curie will have to have their cheap fees reviewed.
(Actually some use Dewey House!!!).
We also learn there will be a room for confidential discussions - very good for a ruling political group that might want to stitch issues up before an actual public meeting!
Finally - there's the clunky English and jargon.
We hear about the 'decentralisation of power into the hands of local people' (total tosh), 'the increased momentum for localism', 'fulfilling a commitment to social regeneration (eh?) - and so on.
The authors also seem unable to appreciate the difference between number and quantity so we are told that 'less people will need to use their cars' (try fewer people).
And finally! On Page 8 we hear of something called the Anti Room at the Ath !!!  ''The only Anti Room I've ever hear of was an Irish collective of angry feminists but I doubt they ever meet in Warminster. Maybe they mean anteroom?''

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