Thanks to Tanja Rebel for sharing this news with OnTheWight readers. We know that many who have been unable to help are still very keen to follow the community efforts of those involved with the Friends of Frank James. Ed
Today, Monday 4th of March, is exactly one year ago that a small number of people entered the gardens of the former Frank James Hospital in order to tidy up the complete mess around the building.
We were soon joined by other enthusiasts from the neighbourhood who care deeply about the building and who are outraged by the state of disrepair it has been allowed to fall into.
This is how the Friends of Frank James came to be and they have met up for a monthly gathering ever since, joined by people from all generations. Over the year much over the overgrowth has been cut back, whilst care has been taken not to infringe too much on the wildlife haven that the gardens have become.
The gatherings have become social events too, where local people have provided the volunteers with tea, home made pasties, flapjacks and of course mince pies for Christmas.
Dignitaries have visited
The MP and his partner have showed their concern by joining us for two of the sessions and we have also been supported by various Independent Councillors who invited Martin Bell to come and visit the site in February.
Needless to say, Mr Bell expressed his concern that such a beautiful building is neglected in this manner.
Building still in disrepair
Whilst the gardens are now in a somewhat better condition, the building is still in disrepair, which is a great scandal. Contact has been made with some of the owners, who since last summer have full planning permission to commence work, but as yet nothing has happened.
Requests to the Council to do a compulsory purchase are met with a resounding “no”, despite the fact that at least two people with a will and a vision have shown interest in buying it and restoring it to its former glory.
Council’s duty to step in
However, it cannot continue in this manner. If the owners will not take responsibility, it is the duty of this Council to now step in and see to it that this historic building is brought back to its former glory.
After all, this is our Heritage we are talking about, a unique building which was bequeathed to the People of East-Cowes and which has enormous potential.
The Big Gathering: 24th March
The friends of Frank James will never give up and are continuing their campaign with another Big Gathering on the 24th March, in connection with the Sustainability Roadshow in East-Cowes Town Hall between 11am and 4pm on that same day.
We will hold it as an Open Day for people to come and see the grounds as well as a “Birthday Party” to celebrate the fact that the Friends have been tending the grounds for over a year.
Everyone is welcome to come and join in with the fun!
The Friends sincerely hope that it won’t take another year to solve this urgent issue. Their Birthday wish is to see Frank James become a flourishing community hub. With elections coming up this spring it would be wise of our politicians to listen to their voters.
Many people care passionately about this building and want to see a constructive solution where the building is finally returned to its former magnificence.
Image: © With thanks from Josh Aitken
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