The online version of the local newspaper (The Plymouth Herald) is reporting that planning permission for the renovation of the Royal Fleet Hotel has been granted.
The story is also featured on the ITV News Website. They have published a neutral and uncritical description of Scientology as part of their article. The Herald is considerably more sceptical about Scentology and it’s motives and more in touch with local opinion.
Planning permission means that Scientology have an official permission to renovate the building and open it as an ideal org, according to detailed plans they submitted earlie. These can be viewed here.
Informally, the Council were not happy – however, they are local administrators bound by the rules that apply to these applications. Objections were lodged on the grounds of insufficent parking (which the Church walked right into, making ludicrously inflated claims about the numbers of active Scientologists in the whole region) to no avail.
Also, the Church employed Paul Butler Associates, a firm with considerable expertise in obtaining planning permission. Even if the Council had refused, their decision would likely have been overturned on appeal.
Recently, Scientology applied for planning permission to renovate the old hotel they bought almost a decade ago and open it as an Ideal org. For the details, please see yesterday’s story.
The UK planning process requires applicants to submit detailed informtion about their proposals. These might be to erect a new building, modify or renovate an old one, or change the permitted use of a building.
This even applies to Scientology who have been careful to retain Paul Butler Associates a firm of consultants who specialise in managing planning application insure they are granted.
These documents provide a useful insight into Scientology’s furture plans. They are available from the Plymouth City Council Website, and will be mirrored here, soon.
I would encourage readers to comment below, or email me through the feedback page if they find anything interesting in them. This thing is happening in my town, and I will follow it’s progress in great detail over multiple posts. Links are given to multiple documents after the break
A planning application has been lodged with Plymouth City Council to convert a building that they bought in 2010 into an ‘ideal org’ (see image to the left).
Traditionally, Scientology ‘orgs’ (short for ‘organisation) have been modest rented premises near foot traffic, so that Scientologists could present the public with various promotional devices.
Typically they offer ‘stress tests’ on their e-meter. Those interested are taken back to the org for a ‘personality test’. This test, which has no scientific validiity, always concludes that the subject desperately needs help from Scientology and is a hard-sell recruitment method.
However, some years ago, the present ‘leader’ of Scientology, David Miscavige embarked on a project to replace these practical placed with their own much larger and well-appointed buildings
At the same time, recruitment methods shifted from personal contact to media. Scientology now has a streaming TV channel, constantly repeating suite of propaganda programmes, and video kiosks have appeared in orgs. Miscavige claims that these changes will lead to a ‘boom’ in membership, but falls short on reasons why.
Critics suggest that this property binge all about presenting the appearance of expansion to members who take Scientology’s word for everything (especially the richer ones, who can make substantial donations). They also observe that, once opened, the same small numbers of diehard staff just rattle about inside a larger building, struggling even harder to pay the routine bills.
This appears to have been the case in the two ideal org openings that I have previously reported on, in Birmingham England, and Firhouse in the Republic of Ireland The latter was a massive facility for a nation with only 87 Scientologists)
However, they have applied so, after the break, lets take a look at the news and the documents. Continue reading
Every year, Scientology throws a huge party for members of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS). This takes place at the UK headquarters of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor, and up to five thousand members from all over the world turn up.
L Ron Hubbard bought this estate in 1959. He seems to have enjoyed playing English country squire because he ran Scientology’s affairs from the site until he was refused re-entry into the country in 1967.
The event is held every year, and its main purpose is to encourage donations to the IAS. As is the case with all Scientology fund-raising, this can involve a very hard sell indeed, and attendees are unlikely to leave without having given as much as they can afford.
The IAS started life as a legal defence fund for the Church of Scientology, but critics characterise it as a huge slush fund under the exclusive control of the present leader, David Miscavige. Little is known about how this money is spent, of even whether is spent at all.
This year, the event took place on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October, and I was there on the Friday with a small group of protesters.
After the Anonymous campaign against Scientology changed the game by seriously damaging Scientology’s ability to suppress opposition, protests have tailed off. It’s now rare to see more than small groups of activists, and the public might think that they don’t achieve much even as they support the effort (passing drivers frequently honked, waved and shouted approval).
In the case of protesters at the IAS event, however, this isn’t true. They cost Scientology at least tens of thousands of pounds just by being there. If that sounds incredible – it is. However, read on to understand why, and assess the figures for yourself.
New Statesman | February 2017 | “Telling Tales”| John Sutherland | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
The New Statesman, is a well-established national magazine published in London. It bills itself as offering intelligent writing about politics, current affairs and culture, taking a liberal, sceptical stance.
The February 2017 issue lives up to this claim. It contains a variety of interesting articles on all of those subjects.
However, at the very end it rather blots it’s copybook with a ‘humorous’ and dismissive account of the writers encounter with Scientology, years ago.
In it, he suggests that maybe Scientology’s opposition to Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and psychiatric drugs might be just a little admirable – thereby revealing that he has no idea of the nature of this opposition. It’s almost as if he has fallen for Scientology’s anti-psychiatric rhetoric – so much for the sceptical stance…
Clear No 208: Mary Sue Hubbard | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
This strange document was published in 1967. It’s a simple folded piece of card approximately 15 x 23cm – two pages, four sides.
It commemorates the occasion upon which Mary Sue Hubbard (at that time the wife of L Ron Hubbard) celebrated her ascension to the state of Clear -the 208th person to achieve this status.
There are only two pages of text (the other two are devoted to the title and a picture of Mary Sue). This consists of a potted biography of the lady which begins by describing her participation in Scientology’s early development, particularly the history of the Dianetics Institutes.
It also bestows the fulsome praise required to create a cult of personality for Mary Sue herself, so that she may be seen to be worthy of her place at the side of the founder of Scientology. This was not to last. Nine years later, in 1976, she would fall from grace in a most extraordinary way.
For today’s post, I am indebted to an supporter of osteopathy, who has provided some interesting information about the activities of Narconon, which recently opened a small facility in the UK
Narconon is a Scientology front group, which claims to provide paid drug rehabilitation treatment, but actually delivers Scientology indoctrination.
The website Osteobiz, aims to coach osteopaths on the business side of their occupation. In one entry, the author warns about a range of cons and swindles which osteopaths are liable to be exposed to.
One of these is headlined “The Drug Rehab Centre Scam”… and that’s where Narconon comes in. Continue reading