28th May 2023
Our open letter to Seven Capital was one of a series of measures which helped secure a meeting on the 1st March 2023 about the future of the Oasis. In attendance were members of the SOS campaign, David Renard and Gary Sumner (Conservative, former borough council administration), Jim Robbins (Labour, new borough council leader), Jim Grant (Central Swindon North Parish Councillor) Heidi Alexander (Labour Parliamentary candidate for south Swindon), and Robert Guy (architect).
From that meeting, Seven Capital finally agreed to honour the terms of the leasehold contract by providing bins, litter picking, and having weekly waste collections at the site. It is clear to see the stark difference that this has made. No longer are there bins overflowing with dog poo bags. Litter at the site is relatively minimal in most places. The noticeable exception is where the porta cabins have been pulled down and a mess has been left behind. We’ve asked Seven Capital to remove that.
In Seven Capital’s response to our open letter, they claimed that the poor state of the Oasis grounds was solely down to the Swindon public. We can now see that not to be the case. Yes the public play a part but waste facilitation is key. If there are aren’t suitable facilities, then some people will throw waste on the floor. If not picked up, it attracts further litter until the situation gets out of control, as it was allowed to do at the Oasis. Plastic Free Swindon’s motif from its launch has been “Be the change”. For us it’s not vacuous self-promotion to curry favour. It underpins the understanding that responsibility and setting a good example are the formations of positive change.
At the end of March’s meeting I went on record, as a former organiser with Swindon People’s Assembly Against Austerity, to denounce the current plans which would see Seven Capital build private housing on the Oasis site for private profit. This situation has arisen through cuts to council funding from central government based on the lies of austerity. Those lies enabled justifications that public assets are liabilities to be sold off, that serving the public interest is somehow unrealistic. This is not true. The Oasis is no mirage. When it was introduced in Swindon, it was as a public amenity. It can be like that again if we stop facilitating greed.