|Chiswick House Friends publish consultation results|
Internal survey shows majority of members united on Lottery bid
Chiswick House Friends, the charitable trust established in 1984 to assist in the conservation, enhancement, protection and support of Chiswick House and its grounds, have made public the results of their internal consultation on the Heritage Lottery Bid.
The Friends distributed a questionnaire with their Autumn Newsletter to its 428 members to find out how they felt about the Bid and whether they agreed with the position the group was taking. They received 160 responses equating to 37% of their membership and after analysing the results, it is clear there was overwhelming approval of the Friend's approach.
Only 4% of respondents wanted to support the bid unequivocally as it stands, while another 4% did not want to support it at all.
The remaining 92%, responded to the following ten questions:
Which of these do you want us to do:
ii. support educational and community activities?
iii. support restoration of the conservatory, lake, rose garden, paths, trees?
iv. support a tidy-up only of the Northern Wilderness (ie not full historical restoration)?
v. resist any more roads (vehicle-ways), one-way systems or additional vehicle entrances and argue for banning all visitor (as opposed to essential service) traffic in the Gardens?
vi. subject to that, support appropriate and well-managed commercial events?
vii. accept the need for more visitor parking but negotiate on its location?
viii. support a new café providing it caters informally for local and family needs as at present?
ix. resist any further dog restrictions, whether on or off the lead?
x. any other caveats?
With respect to the last question, members noted concerns about maintenance levels, camellias and wild life, the need for more staff to counter vandalism, and bans on roller blades and loud music. There was no mention at all of the tree-felling that has been the subject of "various items of largely misinformation that have since appeared in the press" Chiswick House Friends understand that the proposed tree-felling is largely to do with good husbandry after years of neglect.
A few members made suggestions for alternative methods for funding the site - for instance World Heritage Fund, World Monuments Fund or the Government. However, given the levels of response, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of members want the Heritage Lottery Bid to succeed.
The largest number of individual comments concerned roads and traffic in the grounds mainly that there should be no additional vehicle-ways (though existing ones should be repaired), there should be no new access gate in Park Road, and that there should be no visitor traffic in the gardens although the need for extra car-parking was generally accepted.
In the overall response about a new café, 77% supported the view that this was acceptable subject to continuing to cater informally for local and family needs, as at present. 11 respondents made comments specifically wanting to retain the present café, either renovated or rebuilt at the existing site. Reference was made to how well run the present café is, and what good value for money it is. There was no comment supporting a change of management.
The subject of opposing new dog restrictions surprisingly received the lowest of all the responses – though still 60% with only 9% opposing. A few individuals supported further dog restrictions or suggested timed restrictions (eg. off leads before 10am in summer or at any time in winter).