A row over the future of an empty nightclub in Swindon town centre is ongoing.

Before May 2023, Conservative councillors - particularly those representing Central ward - were enthusiastic about the prospects of turning the old Medina nightclub into a community centre for people of Goan heritage. 

One of those members, Councillor Anabelle Pegado, said: "Officers agreed to commission a condition survey to find out exactly what needed to be done to the building and how much money would be required for renovations before we made a final decision.” 

But when Labour came to power a year ago, leader of the council Councillor Jim Robbins poured cold water on the idea saying the building was not suitable.

He said it is not accessible to those who have mobility problems, there is no parking allocated to it, although it is near a council pay and display car park, and the building is damaged by water ingress, contains asbestos and is vermin-infested. 

Now Tory councillors are trying to put pressure on the administration to revive the idea. 

The group's deputy leader Councillor Dale Heenan said: ”Eighteen months ago, the former Medina nightclub was identified as a perfect site for a new town centre community centre. A building survey showed a lot of work was needed but it was feasible. 

"Last month, the Conservative budget proposed that the council contribute £300,000 to the refurbishment costs, match funded by grants and fundraising by the local community. A very standard approach for buildings which the council owns. Labour voted against. The Conservatives have a viable plan. It might not be perfect, but we are trying to be constructive.  

 “Today we call on Labour councillors to work with the Conservatives, community leaders, and anyone else willing to find a solution. Success always demands a greater effort. All you need to do is say yes." 

 Cllr Lourenco Fernandes added: “The Goan community would massively benefit and could act as caretakers for a refurbished building. This would be a fantastic venue which could be made available to all town centre communities. But all we keep hearing from those in charge is 'no'.  

 “If Labour councillors don't want to be involved that is fine. You are standing in the way and blocking progress. All you need to do is say yes to this empty building having a new life as a Community Centre, step aside and allow others to come up with the business case, and funding to make it happen.” 

 Cllr Pegado said: “Being an effective councillor is not all about politics. To me, it’s about representing and fighting for your community.

"The prospect of finally having a Goan Community Centre in the heart of Swindon has been of huge importance to me and many local people. I have long been convinced our community can come together and make it happen.” 

But Cllr Robbins said: “The only Central ward councillor who has been in touch with me about the Medina building is Councillor Adorabelle Shaikh.  

 “We visited the building with officers and the Goan Swindon Association, and officers explained in detail that £600,000 would need to be spent to bring the building back into use and the layout still wouldn’t favour a community building.  

 “Labour has always been committed to improving the town centre and local communities and will try to find a suitable building for the Goan community that is safe to use.  

 “Misleading comments from Conservative councillors just ahead of the elections are just shameless electioneering, and sadly typical of last year’s antics.”