Wiltshire

Destination Swindon: Councillors 'wrong' to turn down funding

Dr Laurie Marsh Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Dr Laurie Marsh made millions as a property developer in the 1970s

A philanthropist with a regeneration plan for Swindon says he has not given up hope his idea will be adopted.

Dr Laurie Marsh said setting up a charity to develop council-owned land would mean all profits went to the community and not to developers.

"They're being whipped to reject the potential for the benefit of their voters, their tax payers, their community. It's very wrong and very sad."

The council has been asked for comment.

'Wrong for so long'

Labour and the Liberal Democrats' motion to adopt Dr Marsh's Charity Funding Initiative (CFI) model was thrown out by the ruling Conservative party at Swindon Borough Council.

The same funding model was used by Dr Marsh to save the Theatre Royal in Bath from closure in the 1980s.

"They realise they have been doing it all wrong for so long, they won't want anybody to realise.

"When you've been making mistakes for 20 years and giving away tax-free money to tax-free havens... they don't want it to be exposed.

"The normal practice in any council or any local or central government, when they need some money, they sell the taxpayers' asset to somebody else who makes the money and who generally doesn't pay the tax."

He said as a philanthropist he would also work for free.

"I bring together international-quality teams who provide their services on an expenses-only basis which tends to save hundreds of thousands of pounds, in some cases millions of pounds until the project is fully-funded."

He added sceptics "have misunderstood the essence of what is being put forward".

"I have persuaded them in a tiny, tiny way but they haven't agreed to do it in a large way and that means the taxpayers ought to be revolting against them.

"Even when they do and vote against them, the politicians and civil service still ignore them. It's a tragedy in a way."

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