Councillors awarded the contract for the Podium Refurbishment work to C J Cook and Partners at a Council meeting on Thursday 2 August 2018. The company has been asked to commence work from Monday 24 September 2018 this will allow the annual Fair to visit in the first week in September. The work is expected to be finished by the end of October and well before Remembrance Sunday to allow for the Remembrance Sunday Service to take place on the Podium. During the work, the back row of car parking spaces will be closed as half the Market Square will be fenced off by the Contractors carrying out the work.
Whilst work is undertaken, the Market will temporarily relocate to the old library car park (near the Public Loos).
It was decided by Councillors that as part of re-developing the Podium the current tree will be taken out and replaced by another, more suitable one. The tree was removed on Thursday 1st March 2018 and a new one will be planted as part of the re-modelling of the Podium later on in the year.
The reasons for taking the tree out at this time are that, firstly, the work would have been much more difficult if it had been left to come into leaf. Secondly, the roots damaged the Podium surface and the continuous requirement to monitor the damage and carry out running repairs proved costly, particularly when the whole surface is due to be replaced in the new build.
The Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which was placed on the tree, does allow for it to be taken down, but it is stipulated that it must be replaced with a tree species called Liquidamber which has to be semi-mature (20 to 25 cm in girth). A replacement tree is currently being sourced.
The remodelling of the Podium is still under negotiation with the Conservation department at Swindon Borough Council. The Conservation Officer is engaged in ensuring that the Town Council takes appropriate care of its Market Square, including the choice of materials and colour of surface. It is hoped this will soon be resolved.