The Swindon Labour Group will be calling for a suspension of the Conservative Council’s current plans to transfer control and management of Lydiard Park to a private company, not-for-profit organisation or community group. This will be done through a motion to the next Full Council Meeting on the 12 November.
This follows news that Swindon Council have placed adverts in trade journals and newspapers to invite organisations to submit proposals for taking over the management and control of Lydiard Park and residents at the West Swindon Forum criticising Conservative Councillors for pursuing the transfer of Lydiard Park when at the recent election they said to residents they had no plans to do this.
The Council will also be holding two engagement events at the visitor centre so that park users can give their views on the Conservatives’ plans. The public engagement events will take place on Wednesday, 18 November between 8.30am and 3pm and on Sunday, 22 November between 9.30am and 3.30pm.
The motion reads:
- Is concerned about the Cabinet Member for Culture’s recent announcement that the Cabinet are looking at transferring LydiardPark and potentially Swindon’s other country parks to a private company
- Believes the Council should retain overall control and continue to run its local country parks, including Lydiard Park. Furthermore Council believes that there are ways the Council can generate more income from our country parks without having to transfer them to a private company.
- Requests the Cabinet Member for Culture suspend all current actions being taken to explore organisations that can take on the running of Swindon’s country parks and requests that he brings a report to Cabinet detailing how the Council can generate more income from its country parks in order to mitigate the Council’s future budgetary challenges”
The mover of the motion, Councillor Jim Robbins (Shadow Lead for Leisure & Libraries), said:
“We’re moving the motion primarily to put a stop to the Conservative administration’s plans to transfer control and the management of Lydiard Park to a private company. Such an act would be a disaster for the park, would lead to no local accountability over decisions taken on the park and would be a breach of local democracy as Tory Councillors had been telling residents at the last election that they had no plans to transfer Lydiard Park.
But what we’re also saying is that if we need to generate more income from Lydiard Park in order to meet the subsidy the Council currently commits to on the park, then there are ways the Council could do this. So we are calling on the Cabinet Member to not only suspend any transfer of the park but also produce options on how the park could generate a greater income. Councillor Perkins has mentioned a private company introducing car parking charges and a restaurant in order to raise income from the park, and there is no reason why the Council cannot do this itself in order to raise income. There are plenty of other ways the Council could generate more income from the park.
Our country parks are different to the leasing of the leisure centres in that they do not have commercial competitors as such, so there is no reason why the Council cannot itself find ways to generate more income from the park which does not impede on local accountability for decisions made about the park.
Pictured above – Mannington & Western Councillor Jim Robbins, Labour Shadow lead for Leisure and Libraries
Below – Lydiard Park and House in use