THE latest twist in the Mechanics’ Institute saga could see Swindon Council take over the emergency safety work that owner Mathew Singh has so far failed to do.

David Potter, director of planning and transport at the council, is proposing that the council step in and commission contractors to complete the dozens of jobs that were listed in an Urgent Works Notice given to Mr Singh last year.

It is estimated that the cost of the works is just short of £250,000, but Mr Potter has warned this figure could skyrocket when and if the council is finally granted full access to the building.

Mr Potter has compiled a report to the planning committee, which will meet on Tuesday, in which he says he is concerned that the work has not been done.

The report says the Health and Safety Executive will not let Mr Singh do anything until he gets an approved contractor, and mentions grave concerns raised by a Wiltshire fire officer.

Mr Potter said: “The council is continuing to work with its partners to ensure a viable long-term future for the Mechanics’ Institute building.

“In working to this objective, the first priority is to ensure that the building remains in sound structural condition.”

He said the works undertaken to date were inadequate and there was no programme set out for further works, leading to doubt whether the repairs would be completed to standard and in time.

“I am therefore advising the planning committee of my intention to take the measures necessary to complete the works pursuant to the Urgent Works Notice served,” he said.

Mr Singh has been made aware of the council’s intentions and will have until April 19 to demonstrate that he will undertake the work and produce a timetable of when it will be completed.

The Urgent Works Notice alone consists of more than 70 emergency safety repair jobs that must be done to bring the building in line with safety regulations.

This is separate from the HSE notices to stop all work until basic safety requirements have been met.

Mr Singh has said he wants to do the work himself, but has admitted that progress is slow.

He said: “We are continuing to work here and I want to do this myself.

“We are getting a firm of heritage architects to get a plan together in the next few months.

“The council are not doing this to help me – they will send me a huge bill. All they want from me is a programme of works and I am working on that.

“We are working but most of the work needs to be done on the roof and that is progressing slowly because of the weather. There are no normal circumstances with a project like this.”

Daniel Rose, chairman of The New Mechanics’ Trust, said: “The trust would welcome this much-needed action by Swindon Borough Council.

“The trust has continually argued for enforcement action towards the owner and we are pleased that the planning committee has been given this recommendation.

“The owner has had more than enough time to comply with his responsibilities to the building.

“This is the heart that is so missing from Swindon. The Mechanics’ could give us a golden opportunity to bring the people of Swindon together and contribute to the wider regeneration of the town in an inspiring way that we can all be proud of.”