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Arundells trustees step down
TWO trustees of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation have stepped down as the debate over the future of the former prime minister’s home Arundells rages on.
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster and Sir Timothy Kitson have announced their retirement following the failure to secure permission to sell the £5m Cathedral Close property as a private house.
The two trustees believed the sale of Arundells was the only way of achieving financial stability for the foundation and freeing up funds to pay for the sailing and music scholarships also in Sir Edward’s will.
But the Charity Commission has refused to allow the sale and Arundells remains open to the public.
Multi-millionaire businessman Peter Batey has come up with a fundraising scheme which he believes will enable Arundells to remain open as a tourist attraction and be used for events, exhibitions and concerts.
Mr Batey, who worked as Sir Edward’s private secretary, has agreed to cover Arundells’ deficit while his proposals are considered and the funds are raised.
However, planning permission to keep Arundells open as a tourist attraction runs out next year. The trustees will have to re-apply to Wiltshire Council seeking permission to keep the property open to the public.
While some Cathedral Close residents have supported the idea, others have said the Close already has enough visitor attractions and questioned whether there is enough interest in the former prime minister to justify his house being kept open as a museum.
Wiltshire councillors will make a final decision next year.
It is hoped that the retirement of the two trustees will make way for others who do not share their views to submit an application to the council and, if permission is granted, to continue to open Arundells to the public while the trustees consider the feasibility of Mr Batey’s proposal.
Wilfred Weeks will be acting as chairman of the trustees.
Arundells is open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays until October 30, and bookings are being taken for 2014 on 01722 326546.
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