Love Lydiard Trust forms to represent community

By Anita Jaynes on August 08, 2016

A community group with the community’s best interests at heart, has been formed by local people in partnership with Lydiard staff to bid for the running and management of Lydiard House and Park. The trust will, over the coming weeks, set out its vision for the estate, embracing the community’s affection for this much-loved public park.

The people involved in the Love Lydiard Trust are by no means new to the scenario facing the estate as the group includes all of the Lydiard team who submitted the original expression of interest in December of last year.  Since then, they have continued throughout the process to develop their expression of interest into a fully comprehensive bid in partnership with the Akers family, the community and a team of highly qualified people with key expertise for the project.

The Lydiard staff have a proven track record of being highly experienced and skilled in the running and management of Lydiard House and Park. This demonstrates they are the best option for taking over the site.

The Love Lydiard Trust group leading the charge are:

Lord Joel Joffe of Liddington – former House of Lords Peer, Human Rights Lawyer, human rights and social justice campaigner

James Phipps – CEO of Excalibur Group and leading Swindon Business Person

Gina Akers – TV & Radio Presenter, Journalist, Media, PR & Branding Consultant

David Barnard – Music Consultant and former chair of the Lydiard Fields Action Group

Rod Hebden – formerly of the National Trust and now Development Director of Cheltenham Festivals

Jim Boyd – a founding member of Better Swindon, IT consultant, community, business expert

Swindon’s Lydiard House and Park was registered as an Asset of Community Value by the Lydiard Fields Action Group in 2014. The Council’s decision to offer a management lease in excess of 25 years created an opportunity for community groups to submit their own bids. The Love Lydiard Trust was formed for this purpose and was the only qualifying organisation to apply to trigger the moratorium on behalf of the community. This was accepted by the Council on August 9. The group now has until December 22 2016 to provide a detailed proposition, building on the excellent proposal already submitted by the staff team.

The Love Lydiard Trust is the only community group supported by the Akers family. Gina Akers, great-granddaughter of Councillor Francis Akers, who gifted Lydiard House and handed over the Park to the community in 1943, said: “I am extremely pleased that the Localism Act has allowed the Love Lydiard Trust to be recognised legally as a valid community group and I’m very proud that we were able to use this to trigger the moratorium. This means that as a genuine community group our potential to manage this precious asset of community value has to be taken seriously, and time given for our proposal to be considered carefully. This scenario now sets the foundation for a credible, reliable and sustainable outcome to be achieved for Lydiard House & Park that will be acceptable to the local authority and the community.

Lydiard’s future is so important. The decision to outsource its day-to-day operation and management, should not be rushed. The moratorium allows more time for the people of Swindon to have their say and share their ideas on Lydiard’s future.”

David Barnard, interim chairman, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the staff team. They have invested their hearts and souls in Lydiard over the years and deserve a chance to run this amazing park. The trustees of Love Lydiard Trust are an outstanding group and will play an essential part in realising the park’s future prosperity and success.”

Lydiard Staff member Annie Griffin – Museums & Heritage Service Delivery Manager, added: “The staff management team who have seen this right through from expression of interest to the bid are absolutely delighted to be working with such a strong trustee board to secure a fantastic future for Lydiard.”

You can follow the Love Lydiard Trust on Facebook @LoveLydiardTrust and on Twitter: @LoveLydiard

The Love Lydiard Trust are putting community engagement at the forefront of its priorities and welcomes comments, views and support from the community. To make contact, please email: ginaakerspr@gmail.com

Pictured above: Lydiard Park, photographed by Gavin Baker