I would like to begin by saying something about the Swanscombe Pavilion.
The Pavilion is one of those facilities that councils up and down the country lament losing. It’s a sports and social club run for the benefit of the community, providing services like lunches for the elderly, children’s clubs in the school holidays, changing rooms for the local football team.
It was renovated by volunteers, and is run by a committee working themselves into the ground to keep it going. It’s not easy running a pub these days, much less a community centred sports and social club. But the Pavilion Committee are determined and organised and they have a business model that will work. They have a beautiful hall, which they could easily rent out for weddings and parties, and use the money to fund their other projects –
Or they will be able to, when they get the floor fixed. And the pipework under the floor. And the heating.
There is only so much a community group can do. And when they began investigating the faulty heating, and discovered all of the above, they knew they would need help if they were going to stay open. They’re caught in a catch 22 – they can’t afford to fix the building until they start renting the hall, they can’t rent the hall until they’ve fixed the building.
This is a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP. So, after trying a variety of other things, we decided to ask for an amendment to the Dartford Council Budget, allocating £20,000 to the Pavilion to make the repairs. The figure was the more competitive quote the committee had, based on the work they considered really essential and outside of their means. I think it speaks volumes that they wanted to ask for as little as possible. However, when I made the case, I was told by Jeremy Kite and Brian Read that they were already “working” on it, and indeed they were thinking of a far higher amount. They just hadn’t told the Pavilion Committee about this yet.
This may, of course, be good news. A grant of MORE than £20,000 would be warmly welcomed. If it materialises. The problem I have is that the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association could have voted for the amendment, and still continued “working” on this extra funding. The two things are not mutually exclusive. But the Conservatives and The Swanscombe Greenhithe Residents Association voted against the amendment. If they were really serious about funding this project, why not take the opportunity to vote for some right there, in the open? Especially as there is so little time to waste - what would it have cost?
I think, before we celebrate the good news, we have to make sure it happens. We have to hold both parties to their decision to vote against this funding, and their commitment to finding alternative sources. Because if this does get kicked into the long grass, and the “work” doesn’t pay off, what will their vote have achieved? Losing the last chance to get the problem fixed?
So, if this is an issue you care about, I urge you to contact Mr Read or Mr Kite, to let them know you know what they’ve promised and that you expect to see results. As I say, there is no time to lose on this, and the more public pressure there is the more chance that this will actually happen.
Because if we let them forget about it, it’s still possible we won’t.