CALLS have been made for the council to clarify its position on Lydiard Park after the release of contradictory information by senior members of the administration.

It follows the breakdown of a deal between Swindon Borough Council and the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust which would have this year seen the trust take over the running of Lydiard House and Park.

A disagreement over the costs needed to undertake urgent maintenance work led to the deal being scuppered.

Councillor Garry Perkins, the cabinet member responsible for regeneration, last week accepted the trust’s claim that the £850,000 figure put forward by the council for backlog repairs had been “reverse engineered”, meaning the figure had been arrived at before the results of the maintenance survey were known.

However, council leader David Renard on Sunday revealed that Coun Perkins’ admission was, in his words, “news to me”.

Coun Renard maintained that the £850,000 figure was “based on the surveyor’s assessment of the backlog repairs required at that time”, despite Coun Perkins’ statement last week that that had not in fact been the case.

In last week’s admission, Coun Perkins told the Adver: “The £850,000 figure did come before the report, but it was intended purely as a contribution.”

As a result of the apparent confusion, members of the trust have urged the council to get their story straight.

“We would like to give credit to Coun Perkins for having the courage to finally come clean and tell the public the true background to the Lydiard survey saga,” they said.

“Perhaps it will encourage Coun Renard and colleagues to address the current crisis at Lydiard. A good start would be to give the public the assurances we and others have called for.”

However, Coun Renard on Monday insisted that the £850,000 figure was arrived at after the council’s in-house survey report showed the extent of the work that needed doing, further contradicting Coun Perkins.

Neil Hopkins, Labour’s Lydiard and Freshbrook ward candidate, accused the Conservatives of being “all over the map”.

And at last week’s full council meeting, when Labour’s Jim Robbins’ said he was “flabbergasted” that the £850,000 figure had been arrived at before the survey report, his statement was neither denied nor even challenged by the administration.

But Coun Tim Swinyard, the Tory member for Lydiard and Freshbrook, stressed he and his colleagues were committed to the future of the historic house and park.

He said: “Where we need to spend money in Lydiard we will, and where we need to invest we will.”

Coun Perkins likewise insisted that Lydiard’s future is “secure” in the hands of the current administration.