Protestors turned out in force on Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to urge Swindon Borough Council to change their mind about the fate of the Grade II listed Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town. 

The demonstration follows a report that recommends the venue stays closed and is sold off, which the Save our Museum and Art Gallery (SoMAG) group has labelled as ‘deeply flawed, inaccurate and misleading.’ 

The report suggests that Apsley House on Bath Road should not reopen until a suitable home is found for its contents, as the group have suggested, because it isn’t financially viable to do so.

It also suggests that the council’s own civic offices and even Lydiard’s conference centre could be used to house some of the renowned art collection instead. 
A cabinet meeting is set to take place on Wednesday, September 8, where a decision is expected to be made about the building’s fate off the back of the report. 

Linda Kasmaty of SoMAG said:“We have worked very closely with Councillor Jandy to try to re-open Apsley House until a space can be found that can do justice to our wonderful art and museum collections, but on reading the cabinet paper we were shocked to find that none of the reassurances he gave us have been kept.

“We don’t blame Councillor Jandy for this – we know he has been requesting surveys from his officers for weeks, to understand the real costs of re-opening Apsley House, and he wanted to give us the chance to commission our own survey, too. 

"But now this paper has been rushed out and will go before cabinet on Wednesday and the councillors will have to rely on the facts and figures in the paper, so much of which are clearly wrong, to make a landmark decision.

“Thanks to an FOI request, we are now aware that the Grade II listed building which the council owns and has failed to maintain has been knowingly left to deteriorate. 

"This negligence means that the heating has now been condemned, the roof is letting in water, and the collections have been exposed to damp. This, in itself, is a disgrace.

“The building is planned to be sold off at a discounted price, in a dilapidated state, into the private sector, putting it at great risk of being bought speculatively by a developer and left to rot, alongside buildings like the Corn Exchange, Mechanics Institute and the Oasis.”

Regardless of what happens Wednesday, SoMAG says it will keep fighting.