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Old Sarum owners get apology over comments made by councillor

Old Sarum Airfield

Old Sarum Airfield

The owners of Old Sarum airfield have today received a public apology from Wiltshire Councillor Ian McLennan of Laverstock, Ford & Old Sarum ward after he made a number of innacurate comments and statements online about the intentions of the owners.

Mr McLennan said “Over the course of last year (2020), I made various comments on Facebook, Twitter, and the Salisbury Journal website in response to concerns raised about the operation of Old Sarum Airfield, and the condition of Hangar 3 in particular. Hangar 3 is a Grade II* Listed property.

Some of those comments referred to Grenville Hodge and Matthew Hudson in connection with the current condition of Old Sarum Airfield. I understand from Mr Hodge and Mr Hudson that my comments have caused them personal offence and distress. I would like to sincerely apologise for any offence or distress caused to them by my comments – it was certainly not my intention to do so. All relevant comments have now been deleted and I am sorry if those comments have contributed to any misunderstandings about Mr Hodge and Mr Hudson’s intentions and actions relating to Old Sarum Airfield.

I have been informed that both Mr Hodge and Mr Hudson have made a significant personal and financial commitment to the continuation of Old Sarum Airfield over the last 30 years. In addition, I understand that Mr Hudson and his family previously invested a significant amount of money in order to rescue the Optica Aircraft company in 1987, which was operating at Old Sarum Airfield at the time. I have also been informed that neither Mr Hudson nor Mr Hodge have received any return of the investments nor any remuneration for their efforts in connection with Optica, Old Sarum Airfield or Hangar 3.                                                                                                                        

“I understand that both Mr Hodge and Mr Hudson are widely-respected within the aviation and aerospace community both in the UK and internationally, and further detail of their achievements and their investments at Old Sarum Airfield can be found on the Old Sarum Airfield website:

“I understand that both Mr Hodge and Mr Hudson are keen to restore the condition of Old Sarum Airfield, and Hangar 3 in particular, in order to protect the heritage of the airfield. I am sorry if my comments have in any way misconstrued their intentions towards the preservation of Old Sarum Airfield and Hangar 3. I welcome the prospect of future co-operation with them and the local community to try and identify ways to restore the property and leave a lasting legacy, for future generations.

Old Sarum has been in the General Aviation spotlight after plans for the site were rejected by Salisbury area planners and the future of flying at the airfield has been under discussion for some time.

In response to the apology, Matthew Hudson said: “We have sought, through legal process, the clarification and correction of misinformation and inaccurate comments through the media and social media as circulated by Councillor McLennan and are delighted that our position has been upheld and Councillor McLennan has publically acknowledged his actions and mistakes. Our intentions remain completely focused on protecting the airfield and heritage assets. We also look forward to working with our ward councillor and other members of Wiltshire Council to ensure a long term sustainable future is achieved for the Old Sarum airfield.”

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