A Tale of Two Surveys
Blogged by James Preece on 30th October 2012
The BBC reports...
Protesters holding a prayer vigil at a Catholic church which is shutting on safety grounds say they could take their campaign to the Vatican.
They are planning an appeal to the congregation for the clergy - a committee which advises the Pope - to save St Winefride's in Aberystwyth.
Worshippers attended a final service on Sunday but plan to stay until its doors shut for good on Thursday.
The local bishop claims the Pope's UK envoy says it is a diocese matter.
The Church closure is of course a diocesan matter... but... even then there are rules to follow and if Bishops abuse their position then of course it becomes a matter for Rome. There are precedents. Bishops have been told by Rome to reopen parishes.
So that stuff about "this is a diocesan matter" is nonsense, though it is a classic bullying tactic to tell your victims that the authorities are on your side.
The BBC report continues...
An structural survey by the diocese shows the church site in Queen's Road, which includes a dilapidated parish hall and presbytery, is not fit for purpose.
It would cost more than £2.6m to renovate the building, he has said, although objectors dispute this figure, saying a survey they commissioned put the figure at £625,000.
Whoa there! One survey says £2.6 million, another says £625 thousand. That's a bit of a reduction! Surely some mistake?
Something of an explanation can be found in a recent 'pastoral' letter from the Bishop...
Detailed costings prepared by Ash Cost Consultancy indicate that some £2.6 million needs to be spend to re-build/re-furbish properly all existing buildings and site infrastructure. In contrast, another structural report has appeared, drawn up by Barratt Associates, which envisages renovation of the church and presbytery to cost an estimated £625,000. This report would appear to be more of an "appraisal" than a thorough inspection or detailing of costs. It seems merely to indicate the minimum amount of work that might be need to be done to make the buildings useable. It states that the assessment and costs are subject to confirmation by other professionals. I believe that it is true to say that the Barratt Report is not as detailed or wide-ranging, and therefore is less complete than the more thorough ASH report. Again, as I said to you three years ago, and I say again in light of the Barratt Appraisal:
It would mean throwing good money away and merely delaying a decision to another day when it ought to be taken now.
To spend £625k now would not make St Winefride's "fit for purpose" for the 21st Century which was the objective when discussions began some 10 years ago.
The bold text was made bold by the Bishop... if I were to make any text bold above it would be the part that says "It seems merely to indicate the minimum amount of work that might be need to be done to make the buildings useable.".
Is that a problem?
This is where the Bishop reveals that this is not a dispute about the cost of repairing a Church but an ideological one. He doesn't want to simply repair the church - he wants to change it. The parishioners want a building they can use but the Bishop wants something "fit for purpose for the 21st Century" whatever that means.