Wiltshire

Destination Swindon: 'Pie in the sky' monorail plan rejected

Swindon Mechanics Institute Image copyright Google
Image caption The proposal also involved regenerating the derelict Mechanics Institute

"Pie in the sky" plans for a monorail in Swindon have been dismissed by borough councillors.

Philanthropist Dr Laurie Marsh had proposed the system as part of a wider town centre regeneration scheme, including a conference centre and a university.

But the council's ruling Conservative group rejected the proposals at a meeting on Thursday.

Cabinet member Dale Heenan said the plans were "not deliverable".

A motion put forward by Labour had urged the council to carry out research into how the scheme could be achieved.

Bob Wright, who introduced the motion, said the project was "about bringing pride to Swindon".

Every Labour and Liberal Democrat councillor voted in favour, but the majority Tory group voted it down.

'Pragmatic and realistic'

Dr Marsh wrote to the council setting out his Charity Finance Initiative (CFI) funding model idea. He successfully used the model to save the Theatre Royal in Bath from closure.

It would involve setting up an independent charity to work with the council to help secure planning permission on council-owned land.

The charity would develop the land - an asset - and retain ownership.

Developing the land would be achieved by taking out loans against the value of the land - such as bank loans or pension funds.

Mr Heenan said: "We've looked at [plans] again and they're not deliverable."

He added: "Hopefully we can build on something in the future but we have to make it pragmatic and realistic.

"A monorail is fanciful pie in the sky, Labour admit it, so why are we even debating it at a council meeting?"

The BBC has approached Dr Marsh for comment.

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