The suggestion that the underpass linking Swindon town centre to the outlet village could close became a baffling wild goose chase yesterday

At the start of the week, the Adver was tipped off to an email sent to National Trust staff which suggested that the main thoroughfare from the site to the centre of Swindon could be shut for some time.

It said: “We have been informed that there is a chance that the pedestrian tunnel that connects us to the station and town centre may close for an indefinite period from tomorrow.

“I know this is the route to and from work for many staff so please allow extra time to walk around.

“If you are not sure of the alternative route please let me know and I can send you a map.”

We tried to get to the bottom of the matter - and that’s where the trouble began.

Journalists from the Advertiser tried to speak to whoever is responsible for the Bristol Street tunnel to find out whether it would be closed.

Swindon Borough Council denied owning the tunnel, so we went back to check with organisations based on that side of the main railway line.

One suggested that the tunnel was owned by Network Rail.

But a Network Rail spokesperson denied any knowledge of any possible closure: “We have asked around and we weren’t aware of any plans related to the underpass. The access is not owned by Network Rail but by the businesses that use it – such as English Heritage and the National Trust.”

The National Trust said it was nothing to do with them, so we tried English Heritage.

Meanwhile, another source told us that a closure had been planned, but was called off after the outlet village stepped in to prevent closure.

A spokesperson for MacArthur Glen stated that Swindon Borough Council owned the underpass, and English Heritage incorrectly told us that the underpass is partially-owned by both Network Rail and Swindon Borough Council

We went back to the council’s press team, who were taken aback but then did some stellar detective work to finally discover the truth behind all the confusion.

A council spokesperson said: “The tunnel is owned by Churchward PLC, which was served with a winding up order on 13 June.

“We have been informed that there are no plans to close the tunnel, but we are awaiting further details from PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) who have been appointed as special managers to assist in the dealings with the company.

“We will be keeping a close eye on future plans for the tunnel because, although it is a not a public footpath, it is crucially important that it remains open to pedestrians.”