Campaigners hoping to have Swindon Museum and Art Gallery reopened in Apsley House say they are stunned to learn Swindon Borough Council didn’t apply for grant funding.

Euclid Street did not bid for any of the money, up to £5m, available from the Museum Estates and Development (MEND) fund, which was inviting grant applications from museums.

A spokesman for Save Our Museum &Art Gallery said: “The MEND fund is literally a gift to any cash-strapped council, so we were stunned to discover that Swindon Borough Council decided not to apply for funding for Apsley House. We were told by an officer that, despite MEND’s being a good fund, the time wasn’t right for Swindon.”

The group says there is now £850m being made available for museums and says the council should make sure it applies: “The Chancellor says over 100 regional museums and libraries will be renovated, restored and revived. We implore Swindon Borough Council to bid for a share of the £850m, to make sure that Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is one of those museums.”

A report on the next phase for displaying the Swindon collections will be made to the council's cabinet on December 1.