Two different aims for Blake’s Cottage

Since I put up the blog called ‘The petition has been handed over’ I haven’t written another blog although I’ve had plenty of mail, and the original blog is still being visited – which I find rather surprising.

Among the letters there was a touching and very trusting answer from an ex-trustee of the Blake Society. He writes ‘ I still think the best solution – perhaps the only solution – is for all parties to put down their axes and start working together – start repairing the actual work that needs to be done, which is not material (as you know Blake wasn’t remotely  interested in ‘bricks and mortars’ and the material aspect of life) but rather relational and emotional – the sense of Blakean ‘community’.’ It sounds so sensible and mature and possible, so it’s really rather sad for me to have to start this blog by saying, it’s actually an impossible task and that is because the two sides (and there are two sides now) have entirely different aims.

The 500 village people who signed my petition and the others who are still signing it online, have a very simple aim, as I do. We want the repair of the cottage to be the top priority. If it were, I’m sure we would be prepared to campaign for funds just as we did when we were gathering money to buy the cottage in the first place. Our declaration of intent couldn’t have been more clear.

But. And it’s a very big but. Nobody in their right mind would be prepared to hand over their very hard earned cash so that Tim Heath can use it to pay for architectural plans for this new half a million pound building he wants to construct in the grounds nor for the destruction of half the cottage to make room for it. These things are his top priority – he’s already chosen the architect – and he’s been talking about it ever since his handout to the press on June the 16th 2016 when this ‘significant property’ was first openly admitted to.

It’s been very difficult for anyone following these events to discover what that  half a million pound building is actually going to be for, it’s changed considerably over the last year. To start with, Peter Johns said it was going to be a study centre and visitor centre. Then it was described as a ‘retreat for those who want space to ask important question about their lives.’ But it wasn’t until a statement put out on the Blake Cottage Trust website – undated as it always is – but quite recently which gives us the key word. ‘The new building will be multifunctional, having a secure space for small but important exhibitions, space for conferences, alternate space for a second residence, as well as office and administrative space.’  A RESIDENCE. When I read that I wondered who was going to live in it.

There have been altogether too many smoke screens and too much mystery in this affair and by no means sufficient straight facts for us to make up our minds about what it would be best to do. So let me give you a few facts. All of them verifiable.

Tim Heath is 61 and has two brothers who are hard working, reputable doctors with homes of their own and families. Tim Heath has lived in the parental home all of his life and is still there. According to his brother he has lived in the current family house for 50 years. Since his mother, who was the surviving parent, died, her affairs have been in probate but, once the legal matters have all been settled, the house will be put on the market. It is in a salubrious part of North London and worth, according to his brothers, a million pounds, but when it is sold, Tim Heath will have to get out and will need to buy another residence in which to live. According to his brothers he is hoping to walk away with the full million from the house. They have other ideas. Either way, he will still need somewhere to live. I think a lot of us will be wondering where that will be. I know I am.

When this magnificent half a million pound building was first mentioned in the local press, I said it was pie in the sky because I knew how little money the BCT actually had. Now I have to say, I think I was wrong. It wasn’t pie in the sky at all, it was a very real and determined plan.

I would very much like to know what others think of the present situation. Should we hand over money regardless of what it is going to be spent on or should we insist that a very clear promise is given that any funds gathered now would ALL be used to repair the cottage and none of it would go to pay architects, demolish part of the cottage or build another residence?

Keep in touch. This is by no means over.

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5 thoughts on “Two different aims for Blake’s Cottage

  1. @berylkingston, it seems that Blake house has already been “sold” to Heath, in that he will need a house (I do not say home) and he will have the money. Terrible but the truth sometimes awakens us to what is really happening. Hope you are feeling better. @LatelaMary

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    • I can’t say that’s a fact, Mary, because at the moment it is simply supposition but it certainly looks very likely. And in the meantime there is no money for those urgent repairs to the cottage.

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  2. Dear Beryl,
    I will soon be updating my blog, but I thought it worth while to respond to your question here. My stance has been and still is that the Blake Cottage Trust should not be given a single pound more. They have been very dishonest, and their financial information is muddled and has no regard to truth.
    The repair of the Cottage is indeed the most urgent matter, I agree on that, but we cannot, and should not, expect people to keep on giving money to an illegitimate Trust formed by unprincipled individuals. So I believe the Cottage must be repaired but also in the hands of people who care, and are accountable.
    As for the ex Trustee who expresses such kind feelings, he has told me things like those in the past, ignoring completely the fact that, while I was the Secretary of the Blake Society and working very hard indeed for the Cottage appeal, and even afterwards when I found out what both the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust had done to all of you in Felpham, I stretched out my hand over and over again looking for precisely that kind of humane and fair solution: to get together all of us involved and sort things out like decent human beings. That ex Trustee, despite repeatedly expressing to me in private his outrage at what Mr Heath was doing with the appeal, ignored all those attempts of mine at finding a productive and inclusive solution among us all, and he failed to fulfill his most elementary duties as a Trustee, which were both to challenge the other Trustees and the Chair, and to contact the Charity Commission, so I am mystified by his peace-making parlance now, and I have told him so myself. In fact, he’s not even a BS Trustee anymore and, since he never worked for the Cottage appeal at all nor showed any discernible interest in it, and since he failed to fulfill his duties as a Trustee, I have no idea why he feels entitled to interfere now.
    I know that I have expressed disagreement with you on some occasions regarding how to handle the Cottage’s sad situation, and if you don’t want to communicate with me now because of that, i understand. But on reading your email I thought that things are getting really delicate and it would be good if I said here what I think. In any case, I will say this in my blog as well. A very happy New Year.
    Adriana Díaz-Enciso

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  3. Pingback: To change the world « blakecottage

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