The impending rapprochement between warring factions The National Trust and English Heritage is in danger of being scuppered, after the emergence of a hard-line splinter group which has threatened to disrupt talks between the two conservation bodies.
'The British Heritage Trust is vehemently opposed to the peace process,' a volunteer spokesman declared, 'and will not countenance any kind of deal between English Heritage and The National Trust. 'We hereby withdraw our membership and cancel our direct debits with immediate effect.'
English Heritage and The National Trust have been at odds for several years as competition for the lucrative tourist market increased in line with the number of 'staycations' throughout Britain, revealed historian David Marsh; author of several guidebooks on the conflict. 'Ever since an NT member was found selling flapjacks at an EH property, tempers have been high - it's unsurprising that not everyone is willing to accept a peace deal.'
The talks, to be held at EHs Isle-of-Wight stronghold at Carisbrooke Castle, have already stalled once while leaders considered the symbolic gesture of a special admission fee of £6.50 (£5.00 concessions) for NT members. They have also been overshadowed by the refusal of Wales' equivalent organisation Cadw to join the dialogue, due to the lack of bilingual signage at the Castle and the inability of negotiators to translate 'unilateral disarmament' into Welsh.
According to Marsh, BHTs intransigence constitutes a nightmare scenario for the authorities considering this background controversy. 'A number of conciliators have already been targeted with threatening and inflammatory leaflets, while an unmarked package of homemade chutney found outside National Trust headquarters last week had to be disposed of by the Bomb Squad.'
Only yesterday, police discovered a Tudor manor house that had been opened to the public by the BHT in retaliation for the arrest of 'Commander' Mrs. Margret Davies, leader of the BHTs Tour Guides Brigade. Interviewed in her cell at Bellwood Prison, Davies remains unrepentant: 'I have no regrets about my incarceration. Isn't it funny how you only go to these places on holiday and never visit the local attractions? Considering that I only live a few miles down the road, the joke's on you the Historic Building and Monuments Commission!'