This includes a local council approved road closure, which will have a significant impact on the local community. This closure will begin on the 26th of August 2019 and has approval to continue up until September 2020, if required.
in my last post, I repoted that that preliminary work involving asbestos removal seemed to have stalled. It’s now evident that work had actually been completed, at least to the extent that major building works could begin.
The renovation of the building will soon begin, and is going to be pursued with determination.
The dates above are consistant with:
- Completion, and a ‘Grand Opening’ in time for the IAS event in October 2020. This is when the leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, is usually in the UK to preside over the annual IAS event at Saint Hill Manor
- A ‘Grand Opening’ that occurs during nationwide celebrations of the anniversary of the departure of the ‘Mayfower’ from Plymouth to the New World – a perfect opportunity for ‘religious freedom’ propaganda and a speech on that theme.
Miscavige is currently coming under considerable legal pressure in the US. For the first time there is a credible threat that he will be called to appear in court to answer accusations laid in a civil case. Before that happens he must be served with court documents requiring him to appear.
There is a persuasive theory that the Ideal Org programme in the US has been suspended so that court officers will not be able to predict Miscavige’s movements, and he can avoid service. There will be no new openings – but Scientologists have been promised that all of the existing orgs will have their new buildings renovated and opened “simultaneously”, at some point in the future. Fund raising will, of course, continue unabated.
I have taken legal advice and learned that US courts can retain a British solicitor to serve their documents on a visitor to the UK, so Miscavige has the same problem here*.
However, the Renovation of Plymouth Ideal Org is definitely underway. I have a speculative theory as to why. First, lets look at the evidence.
*Revised – I intially thought a US citizen would be immune from service here, but that is apparently not the case.
Evidence That Renovations Will Soon Begin
These letters were sent to nearby residents on the 9th of August 2019, I have alterered the images below only to:
- Remove lines of the address that might identify the person who kindly supplied with this copy
- Erase page numbers that did not correspond with the 2 pages supplied. Such numbering could also have been used to identify an individual address.
The closure, from the 26th of August 2019 until September 2020 strongly suggests a major project taking up to 13 months. The local Council would not grant this if they were not assured by a reputable builder that work will take place, and would withdraw permission immediately if nothing happened. This is not a bluff on Scientology’s part.
The Second page explicitly states that the project is the renovation of the Royal Fleet Club as set out in the previous planning application.
It should also be noted that Sanderson Consulting Engineers are associated with, or acting on behalf of, a company called The Building Consultancy which is based in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. This is a place where Scientology has recently invested a lot of money despite the fact that the 2016 Irish census only recorded 87 Scientologists in the whole nation.
Why should a straightforward English building project be overseen by an Irish company?
The map provided is too small for some elements to be legible, so I have enlarged it somewhat here. Although the details of this application are available from Plymouth City Council, there have been no statutory signs displayed in the area. In typical Scientology style, this closure was designed to be a fait accompli despite the fact that building work will be… well… obvious.
The Scientologists Of Plymouth Have Only Just Been Told
On the the 17th of August 2019, I checked out the existing Org in Ebrington Street, after seeing the leaked poster below on Mike Rinder’s Blog. The location was unspecified, but I can personally confirm that an event took place there, and more than 20 people were shown a video before moving on to other activities.
See below an image of the existing org. It’s a scruffy shop which they have occupied for decades.
Normally, Plymouth Org hires a more classy venue to celebrate progress – for example, they used a hotel for their recent ‘milestone event’. The fact that they made this their announcement of this breakthrough in the modest existing org suggests that it came as something of a surprise to them, too.
On the 18th of August I took the following pictures:
This is the main entry door. There is now a sign behind the glass
The Asbestos removal is being undertaken by another branch of the Gilpin group of companies – Gilpin Environmental. The plans for the building involve tearing out individual rooms and creating a number of open-plan areas. This is work for another division – Gilpin Demolition.
Once the place has been gutted, it will likely be handed over to another contractor to be rebuilt.
There is another sign in the window on the open side of the building.
And here’s a panoramic image for a little context.
It seems to be the land around the back that will be closed at both ends, and include the street to the left of this picture which is used for parking by local residents. There is a video tour of the area here.
Around the back, the mobile asbestos removal unit is still in the yard. The signs for Gilpin Environmental, which were taken down, have now reappeared alongside signs for Gilpin Demolition.
The generator has been replaced by a power distribution unit|(sheltered from the rain with an improvised roof made out of wood and plastic sheet1?) so the electricity supply to the building must have been made safe and the mobile petrol generator that was there before is no longer needed .
Astrip concentrate (which can be seen in in the container in the foreground) is a wetting agent added to the water used in sprayers designed to prevent asbestos dust blowing away. The outdoor electricity supply is likely for the mobile asbestos removal unit, whjich contains a pump servingthis equipment.
It’s therefore probable that asbestos removal is incomplete, and will resume soon.
New padlocks have appeared on the gates, so there will no longer be any confusion about key access.
I regret that two homeless guys (whom I have not mentioned up to this point) will now be excluded from the sheltered loading bay around the back. They have sleeping there for some time, and have been able to leave their bedding there undisturbed. The closures and the work will now make this impossible.
When I was there today, their bedding (see below) was not in evidence, and may have been disposed of.
What Else Is Scientology Doing In the UK?
We do not know very much with reasonable confidence.
We do know that the Renovation of the Plymouth building will begin on Monday the 26th of August. That will be absolutely confirmed when the roads are closed and work begins.
In the rest of the UK, Manchester and Sunderland have buildings with planning permission. The Edinburgh Org also has a building which was a local Council office. It was recently renovated and could be put into use by Scientology after minimal alterations. The only odd man out is Brighton Org, which has doesn not even have a building. It is the smallest of the UK orgs and barely viable.
A recent copy of “Affinity” magazine (Issue 31 mid/later 2019) promised that all these places would ‘go ideal’. Plymouth is now underway but I don’t have eyes on any of the others. Is there anything going on there? I don’t know, and Scientology has certainly kept the Plymouth announcement low key. It’s wise not to write any of them off (except poor old Brighton).
Why Are They Doing This?
As mentioned at the top of the page, nationwide celebrations of the anniversary of the Mayflower departing Plymouth for the New World are planned throughout 2020, and Plymouth Ideal Org can be ready for the IAS event in October 2020. Miscavige might think that a big speechabout ‘religious freedom’ would work wonders.
The nature of the site makes it near impossible to sight-screen the podium, crowd, mechanical lifts, boom camera and huge video screens used during the Ideal Org openings in Firhouse in the ROI and Birmingham in England – and this seems to be an imperitive for Scientology.
If they wanted an opening, I think they could do this remotely. Scientology recently acquired an old broadcast studio, and Miscavige could put in an ‘personal appearance’ on a big video screen. This could be outside, or inside, where there is plenty of open space in either of the ballrooms for a modest crowd.
Why should they make an exception by opening Plymouth? The planning application and several statements by Scientology spokespersons have stated that they expect regular visits from 200+ people. It’s possible that Plymouth will open and Scientologists from all over the country (and further) will be encouraged to go there for fundraising ‘events’ aimed at extracting enough money from them to renovate and open all of the other buildings. At least, that’s how it will be presented.
It’s also possible that the building will be renovated and stand unopened for as long as David Miscavige is distracted by his US legal concerns. It’s also possible that the worldwide Ideal Org project will be paralysed for years.
That would be weird – but this is Scientology, and stranger things have happened. Watch this space 🙂