Emperor Haile Selassie's gift to elderly too big a drain on council funds
A charitable trust could be set up to run and manage the former Bath home of one-time Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.
Emperor Selassie lived at Fairfield House, in Newbridge, during his time in exile between 1936 and 1941.
When he left to return to Africa he donated the Kelston Road building to the people of the city and asked that it be used to benefit elderly residents.
At the moment it is used by a number of groups, including the Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens' Association (BEMSCA), Age Concern, the Ethiopian Coptic Church and a Rastafari church.
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Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Councillor Paul Crossley, has recently met some of the users and asked them to consider forming a trust, so they can run and manage the building for themselves.
Mr Crossley said: "We have had a meeting to discuss with a number of the users the possibility of them setting up a trust to develop plans to ensure we keep it as a community hub and as a place of special interest to a variety of different communities.
"They are hopefully going to come back to us with a new trust group and a proposal to make sure it meets the obligations of the gift when it was given to the people of Bath by Emperor Selassie.
"At the moment it is a council building and it needs a lot of work doing, so under new Government arrangements it would be ideal if it was run by a trust rather than the council."
The aim is that the new trust would be made up of representatives from all the different user groups and the early signs suggest they are keen to get involved.
Mr Crossley said: "The meeting we had was very exciting. There was a lot of engagement and enthusiasm, so we are hoping we will have something positive from them in the new year."
Fairfield House was a care home until the 1990s, when new requirements for the size of residents' rooms meant it was no longer suitable.
It hit the headlines just over a year ago when a man calling himself Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Selassie and saying he was the emperor's grandson, said he wanted to buy the property and turn it in to a museum of modern Ethiopian culture.
At the time, B&NES Council said it had not been approached by anyone wishing to buy the house.