Mechanics’ Institute owner Mathew Singh has been told he cannot do anything with the building until safety issues have been sorted out.

A Health And Safety Executive report, exclusively obtained by the Adver, lists a number of potentially harmful practices which have been carried out at the building in Emyln Square and has served five prohibition notices.

The safety issues raised include: the use of 240 volt electrics in wet conditions; poorly installed electrics; the lack of any trained or competent supervisor, no asbestos survey; no suitable precautions to prevent falls of people while working at height and the lack of a fire risk assessment.

In the report, officer Stacey Gamwell said: “A HM Inspector of Health And Safety has recently visited the site and felt it necessary to take enforcement action against those working on the site, preventing them from carrying out further works until certain areas of the development had been made safe and particular shortcomings had been rectified. This inspector has since carried out further site visits in order to monitor the ongoing works and found the site to be under good management.”

This statement was made just weeks before project manager Mark Titcombe was sacked by Mr Singh.

Mr Titcombe said enforcement action could not have come quickly enough.

He said:“I have read the list of work in depth and I am used to programming and resourcing and I can tell you with confidence that unless they agree to take certain items out, he stands absolutely no chance whatsoever of getting the work listed on the notice done within the timescale.

“The average number of people on site in the last five weeks has been approximately four people, including myself and a labourer who was living in the caravan.

“The number of people required to get the work done to the south end flats is at least three times this number of operatives and to get anything achieved in the north end of the building at least 30 operatives on that alone.”

The HSE website states that failure to comply with a prohibition notice – such as those served in this case – can result in a penalty of £20,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment with the highest tariff being an unlimited fine and/or two years’ imprisonment.

When contacted, Mr Singh said he had only just been made aware of the enforcement notice.

He said: “I have been served the enforcement notice but I have recently fired the project manager so am working through all the paperwork.

“I am working through all of the points raised and will complete them all.”

Daniel Rose, the chairman of the New Mechanics’ Trust, said: “The trust welcomes the intervention of the Health And Safety Executive as we have been deeply concerned by working practices on site for some time.

“Bearing in mind that general infringement of Heath And Safety legislation was highlighted in the urgent works report back in October, the owner has had more than enough time to take the appropriate action to improve the situation.

“We feel this is yet more evidence that the owner is unable or unwilling to take his responsibilities towards the building seriously.

“The trust will work with all stakeholders, including Swindon Council, to secure a brighter future for Swindon’s most important building.”