NEW Longleat boss Bob Montgomery says he is determined to improve relations with its neighbours and win back neighbours upset by changes at the park.
He has been assisting Viscount of Weymouth Ceawlin Thynn with the transition at the park since shortly after the resignation of former CEO David Bradley in October last year.
The 54-year-old, originally from Toronto, started his career at some of Canada’s biggest attractions, before joining Legoland as vice president of operations and development. He then worked for amusement park operator Herschend Family Entertainment.
He was appointed as the Longleat CEO two weeks ago and said: “I’m well aware we need to step forward in the community and build some of the goodwill back that has been lost by some of those kinds of changes.
“Longleat is a business and there is a cost to maintaining everything we have and I don’t think we should lose sight of that, but I think there is a balance to address.”
One of the most unpopular changes was a decision to close the Pleasure Walk to the public unless they had tickets. He has already reversed that decision.
Mr Montgomery, who plans to live locally with his wife Cathy, said: “The pleasure walk is back open already. We haven’t really made a big announcement about it as it happened very quickly.
“We need to look at what we can do to bring the community back and reopening the pleasure walk is part of that.
“There was no negative impact of that on the operation of the park, so it was an easy decision to open it back up to the community that has used it for years.”
There were also protests from neighbours against what they considered unfair ticket changes and price rises.
Mr Montgomery said: “There was previously a scheme where people could buy a ticket for each attraction, but to go back to that scheme exactly wouldn’t work for how the park has evolved.”