STAFF at the Lydiard Park Conference Centre have been handed redundancy notices, sparking fears over the future of Lydiard House.

The Chartridge Conference Company, which runs the centre, earlier this week broke the news to workers, who, it is understood, were aware that possible redundancies were on the cards.

The news has raised serious questions over the future of Lydiard House, with the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust claiming it would be “at grave risk if the conference centre were to be left unoccupied for even a short period of time”.

In a statement, members of the Trust said: “These are worrying times for the hardworking and loyal members of staff, and we feel for them.

“All relevant parties have known that the Chartridge Conference Centre business has been on a downward trend for some time.

“Indeed, the extension of the due diligence period, between ourselves and Swindon Borough Council, is in part due to uncertainty regarding the future of the conference centre.”

They said the conference centre ought to be providing vital income to support the running of the House and Park, and they called on the council – who owns the building – to ensure a contingency plan is put in place to ensure the conference centre is kept open for business.

But following the mass redundancies, the Labour Party yesterday claimed the council had mishandled the situation.

Labour’s shadow lead for Lydiard, Coun Jane Milner-Barry, said: “It is really worrying that the council have let a situation develop where Chartridge employees have been handed redundancy notices en mass, potentially leaving the conference centre dormant for a long period. This really hasn’t been well handled.

“It is unclear if bookings – such as weddings – at the conference centre will be met. However, if they are not, this could have knock-on implications for future private bookings at Lydiard, as the management of all things related to the heritage site will be called in to question.

“Swindon council needs to take a firm grip of the situation to ensure there is an orderly transition of conference centre management to a new operator.”

In response, the council confirmed they are in discussions with Chartridge and promised to “minimise the impact on any bookings” and to consider options for the future of the conference centre.

“In the meantime, the due diligence period with the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust will continue.”

Chartridge did not respond to the Adver’s request for a comment.