A ROW has erupted on Twitter between rival councillors over the future of Lydiard House and Park amid Labour party claims the Tory administration were looking to sell the historic site off.
Leaflets, distributed by Labour, have begun to circulate in West Swindon, warning of the imminent sale of Lydiard House and Park under a Conservative-controlled council.
The news filtered through to the social media platform shortly after 6pm on Sunday evening, when Coun Dickinson (Con, Lydiard & Freshbrook) posted: “Labour are putting a leaflet out saying there are plans to sell off @LydiardPark, not a @TorySwindon plan, so can only be theirs.”
There ensued a lively debate between Coun Dickinson, Coun Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington & Western) and Coun Dale Heenan (Covingham & Dorcan), over the truth in these leaflets.
Speaking yesterday, Coun Dickinson said the claims were simply a product of electioneering and low politics.
“They are claiming there’s a plan to dispose of Lydiard Park, which there definitely isn’t,” he said. “They’re worried about next year’s election and are resorting to scaremongering.
“I spoke to the leader of the council (Coun David Renard) on Sunday night and he said he had no idea about this. It’s pure low politics.
“They are simply making up stories of their own. It’s purely electioneering. We have reassured the residents of Grange Park, Lydiard and Freshbrook there are no plans to get rid of the park.”
Yesterday, Steph Exell, Labour party member, and Coun Cindy Matthews (Lab, Lydiard & Freshbrook), spoke out in defence of the leaflets their party had distributed.
“The Conservative administration has not been very open about their plans to offload their leisure and cultural services,” said Coun Matthews.
“They have talked about the Leisure and Culture Change Programme rather than calling it an asset disposal programme, but those who have been following this will see that disposal is what it is. They are in the process of completing the handover of the Arts Centre to the Wyvern Theatre to run.
“They are currently out to tender for private organisations to take over the running of all the council's leisure facilities, including the golf courses, whilst at the same time consulting over the future of these services.
“If Labour’s defence of Lydiard House and Country Park leads to the Conservatives changing their mind about its future, then Labour will be delighted that this asset will not be stripped from the residents of Swindon like others already have been.”
Steph said: “Labour is making residents aware of the Conservative Leisure and Culture Change Programme document, published in April 2013, which identifies the cabinet’s decision to explore and identify further commercial and/or charitable opportunities at the Platform, Lydiard House and Park, Coate Water Country Park, Stanton Park and STEAM.
“This document is publicly available on the council’s website.
“So, are out-of-touch Conser-vatives not only out-of-touch with the people but with what is on their council’s website and their own cabinet’s decisions?”