The local Newspaper serving Gateshead, “The Chronicle”, reported today that Scientology has obtained planning permission for an Ideal Org there. This is no surprise and was, in fact, predicted by the BBC
The Church of Scientolgy can now start work on renovating the local building they bought more than a decade ago (the former Windmill Hills nursing home, on the edge of Gateshead Town Centre).
In January 2017, they stated an intention to renovate in “two to three years” after the place had been left to rot since they bought it 10 years previously.
What’s more, work has commenced with the removal of asbesto-containing material in Plymouth. This is important because those materials have likely degraded due to serious leaks in the roofing, and also been disturbed by Scientologists. They have, for example, stripped out floorboards and fittings to sell – while people have been living there.
See after the break, for a discussion of Ideal Org prospects in the UK, and confirmation that a specialised asbestos removal crew is on the scene in Plymouth.
Ideal Orgs Ready for Renovation in the UK – What’s Happening Next?
Plymouth obtained planning permission first, with permission granted to Gateshead today only a few weeks later. However, according to Scientology’s own spokespersons, Plymouth has always been behind Gateshead in the queue to be made ‘ideal’.
Gateshead is a district which has a population of over 120,000. However, it is embedded in the densely populate urbanarea of the inustrial north of England, Tyne and Wear. Plymouth, in contrast has a population of over 263,100. This puts it 30th on the list of urban areas in the UK. Moreover, it is embedded in a relatively rural area. If you want to reach the maximum number of people it is a low priority.
However, work has actually commenced in Plymouth. That said, it is to remove asbestos-contaminated materials, and might have been demanded by the council on safety grounds. Also, Scientology has had planning permission there before. This was obtained after they bought the place in 2010 and lapsed after they did nothing but raise additional funds from members for five years.
Meanwhile, the ideal Org project in Manchester is well under way. What will happen next?
Observers have to face the fact that the decisions of Scientology management are not made on rational grounds. They are made according to the whim of Scientology’s ‘leader’ David Miscavige. Consequently, anything could happen. Work could begin as soon as the decontamination is complete – or the project could stall again.
Up until now, I would have thought that Manchester and Gateshead would likely have been renovated and opened first, followed by Plymouth, years down the line. This has, fter all, repeatedly been been the fixed position of Scientology spokespersons.
However, the UK (and Plymouth in particular) are gearing up for a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the departure of the “Mayflower” from Plymouth for the New World which will run throughout 2020.
It’s possible that Miscavige fancies weaving these events into a Grand Opening speech on the theme of religious freedom, and that’s all it might take to bring about the renovation of the building in Plymouth ahead of shedule.
The Gateshead building is in a terrible state, and will take a major effort to renovate. The timescale is possible, as it is for Plymouth. These places could be ready for late 2020. However, the Church of Scienotlogy has 5 years grace before the planning permission expires – and these projects are spun out to maximise fund-raising.
Miscavige comes to Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead in October every year. He does this most years to preside over an elaborate ‘event’ to raise money for the International Association of Scientologists. When he was here for one of these events in October 2017 he opened the Ideal orgs in Firhouse in the Republic of Ireland, and Birmingham in the UK.
We are overdue for more.
Also, Scientology is likely to meet a number of legal challenges relatively soon These cases maypersonally embarrass Miscavige, so he will be looking for positive publicity to shore up his reputation with the membership, if nothing else. He might feel that accelerating his Ideal Org programme will take some of the pressure off.
I’m betting that Manchester will open then. Gateshead will be spun out some more, unless the local counil forces them to act – maybe it will be ready for 2022. Plymouth might be rushed through if Miscavige wants to get in on the “Mayflower” celebrations with a ‘religous freedom’ theme. Equally, after the asbestos-containing materials are gone, the project might stall again.
One thing is certain. There are less then 30 Scientologists in the whole of the Southwest of England let alone Plymouth. The 2011 census recorded only 28 and I have confirmed this estimate by observation and inside information. They have struggled to pay the rent on their present org, a modest shop just off the central shopping area. Local taxes and utilities on their massive new heap, costs are going to be significantly more.
Once the ‘Grand Opening’ is over, and the show has moved on, the place will be dark and empty, and local Scientologists will not have the resources to promote it unless head office steps in.
Asbestos Removal from Plymouth Org
Meanwhile,here’s confirmation that Asbestos removal is underway at the Plymouth building – something that absolutely must be complete before any other building work takes place. We will only learn if renovation work is going to go ahead some time after these contractors leave.
To the left of the yard in this picture are two portable buildings. The nearest one is a canteen and break room for the workers. The far one is a specialised facility for the safe packing of asbestos and asbestos-containing building materials being stripped out of the stucture.
BTW: yes, I know – the letter ‘L’ has fallen off the sign that once read “Royal Fleet Club. I would rather the place become a facility performing chiropody services for the titled, than given over to Scientology. However it is sadly not going to become “The Royal Feet Club” 🙂
Here is a close up of the mobile builing where asbestos treatment takes place. There are two doors at opposite ends. One is at the “dirty end” where contaminated material is brought in to be securely packed into plastic sacks and sealed. The other is at the “clean end”, where plastic sacks full of contaminated material exist to be placed in secure skips (aka dumpsters) for safe disposal on specialised sites.
The label “Clean End” can be clearly seen on the door in the image below.
The yellow warning sign clearly identifies this mobile building as a “Decontamination unit”
The water tanks mentioned in the upper sign in the image below are to feed a water spray which is turned on inside to suppress dust from contaminated material while it is being safely contained.
The people who do this are dressed in disposable overalls with hoods, gloves and filter masks.
There is little doubt that a mobile asbestos decontamination unit is on site, and is currently being worked by a specialised crew. See below the image of one of the units that are sold to firms who do this work. It’s the same.
Finally an observation. While this work is going on, the windows are being opened during the day, and closed during the night. Although affected rooms will be sealed during decontamination work, this is an odd thing to do.