AS more doubt hovers over the future of the Mechanics’ Institute, the former project manager has broken his silence to talk openly about his experiences at working behind the scenes at one of Swindon’s most loved and most controversial buildings.

Mark Titcombe was only in charge of the site for five weeks but says in his entire 25 years in the construction industry he has never worked in such a ‘deathtrap’.

Mr Titcombe was told by owner Mathew Singh that he could not afford to keep him on at the start of this month and he says when the Health and Safety Executive got involved and issued several enforcement notices due to the unsafe work practices, he was relieved.

Mr Titcombe said: “It was five weeks of worry. I think people deserve to know what is really going on.

“I am of the opinion that Swindon Council should repossess the site from Mr Singh, before we end up with a shabby version of the original Mechanics’ Institute, or someone gets hurt whilst working there.

“The rest of the Railway Village represents what we should be trying to achieve with this lovely historic building.

“Having been asked so many times to carry out dangerous and substandard work or ask other people to do so, when Mr Singh said he could no longer afford to pay for project management I was actually quite relieved.”

In a dossier compiled by Mr Titcombe, he lists all of the things he claims he was asked to do which breaks building rules and codes of conduct.

Despite the building work coming in for harsh criticism from the HSE, Mr Titcombe said the enforcement officer John Caboshe did praise him and told him that the site was under good management.

The list of duties Mr Titcombe claims he was asked to undertake include getting labourers to clear pigeon droppings without correct safety equipment, using scaffolding he says was not checked and certified and using rusty ladders.

He also says that the building work was not up to the standard of a Grade II * listed building.

When contacted by the Adver, Mr Singh said he did not want to comment on Mr Titcombe’s claims, but did say: “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.”

The immediate prohibition notices served relate to several breaches of safety regulations including 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.

Mr Singh is now prevented from undertaking any building work until all of the safety breaches have been rectified.