From: Jeremy Sturgess, Chairman – Twigmarket Ltd
Dear Friends of Lydiard Park,
I saw our company name, Twigmarket Ltd, in a story by Swindonlink.com in December relating to potential bidders for Lydiard Park and I understand Twigmarket were also named in the well attended Public Meeting documents last night.
Our name must have somehow leaked to the Press for this article which also referred to an in-house bid by members of Swindon council staff, that I now understand is backed by the Friends Group.
I wanted to reassure you that whilst Twigmarket did indeed submit an initial expression of interest to Swindon Borough Council we believe that our proposal fully respects all the red lines (with the exception of “no leasing out”) set out by the Friends organisation, with whom we would wish to have very close consultation should it proceed any further.
Furthermore our proposal did not reduce public access in any way or include plans for any building extension to the hotel or mansion as was implied in the Swindon Link article. (It was slightly disappointing that no one bothered to check the facts with us before publishing this article!)
Indeed I had hoped to arrange to meet with representatives of the Friends Group to discuss our proposals at an early stage, but having seen the Swindonlink.com article we decided this was probably not wise at this stage given that the Friends Group was now publicly backing the in-house bid and we were therefore essentially competitors.
Should your position change with regard to the in-house bid, and the Friends Group be open minded to other proposals that respect the Red Lines, and assuming that our proposal is of interest to SBC, which is still unclear, then we would be very interested to meet and establish common ground and close co-operation with the Friends Group. We hope for similar dialog with Swindon Heritage.
It may surprise you that our objectives are really quite similar – for instance we proposed that admission charges to the House and Walled Garden be reduced by at least 50 per cent to encourage greater attendance.
It is in everyone’s interest for this wonderful estate to be preserved and maintained for the public good. Where we perhaps differ is only in thinking that this can best be achieved by the Private Sector as opposed to the Public or Voluntary Sector, which is often simply a function of ones political persuasion! – and I can assure you that, if selected, we will work very closely with you as a team ( as we have done with some success with the Golf Club Membership Section at Broome Manor ) to ensure that free Public Access is protected and the Heritage Status of Lydiard Park preserved and improved in all respects. We would also be happy to explore a Joint Bid, as I now understand the Council are to consider allowing a late submission by the Friends Group.