COUNCIL leaders have hit back at claims from Labour that they are planning to sell off Lydiard Park.

Every Conservative councillor and prospective councillor has signed an open letter saying there are no plans to sell off the historic site.

The letter confirms they are looking at ways of making more money from the site, such as weddings hires and the cafe, but it will remain in council control.

In recent weeks Labour rivals have said there are plans to sell off Lydiard Park and launched petition calling for it to remain in council hands. However, this has been dismissed by the Conservatives.

The letter can be read below: 

Dear resident,

You may have recently heard from someone knocking at your door, or seen a letter, claiming that Lydiard Park is up for sale. We can state categorically that Lydiard Park is NOT being offered for sale and NO such proposal has been discussed. Residents should treat these claims with the contempt they deserve because they are only designed to mislead.

Swindon Conservatives are proud of Lydiard Park which includes the Palladian House, the Church and Walled Garden which is set in 260 acres of parkland. So proud are we, that we secured £5M of investment in order to restore it all to its former glory. We have invested in the children's play area, Cafe and tea rooms and a series of events and education programmes which make Lydiard a great destination for a family day out or a short visit.

We are determined to secure the long term future of Lydiard Park so it can prosper and be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. Many commercial and charitable activities already take place in the park such as venue hire for receptions and weddings, the hire of bbqs, the sale of plants outside the Walled Garden, a cafe, the adventure JungleParc and charity fundraising runs. Our ambition is for there to be more of these activities to increase both visitor numbers and income meaning the park is much less reliant on public subsidy.

Sadly, Senior Labour Party Councillors, Council Candidates and the two Labour Party Parliamentary Candidates have decided to misrepresent our position to start one of the most dishonest and negative political campaigns that Swindon has ever seen. Their claims that Lydiard park is being "sold off" as part of an "asset stripping" campaign are shocking and bring politics into disrepute to gain a few extra votes. It is also deeply disturbing that, in these financially challenging times, they have no vision for the future of Swindon.

Senior Labour councillors are actively involved on the council's working party which is discussing the difficult questions of how to come up with sustainable futures of the town's parks and heritage facilities. They cannot plead ignorance and this tactic has destroyed any credibility the Labour Party may have had so do not believe their claims.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Bawden, Andrew Bennett, Alan Bishop, Roderick Bluh, Michael Bray, Wayne Crabbe, Michael Dickinson, Oliver Donachie, Mark Edwards, Toby Elliott, Claire Ellis, Emma Faramarzi, Fionuala Foley, Brian Ford, Mary Friend, John Haines, Peter Heaton-Jones, Dale Heenan, Russell Holland, Richard Hurley, Colin Lovell, Mary Martin, Nick Martin, Brian Mattock, Kevin Parry, Maureen Penny, Garry Perkins, David Renard, Tim Swinyard, Vera Tomlinson, Steve Weisinger, Keith Williams