LEISURE operators Watermark have terminated their lease with Cotswold Water Park Society in a bid to negotiate a better deal, the Standard can exclusively reveal.

Watermark owner Max Thomas confirmed to the Standard this week that he had ended the lease which sublet Keynes Country Park to the developers.

A crisis meeting will be held between CWPS and Mr Thomas next Tuesday to discuss moving forward.

The deal signed in 2007 which saw CWPS sublet Keynes Country and Park and Beach to Watermark sparked a public outcry with many fuming over the transfer of such a lucrative public-owned asset.

Mr Thomas said he either hoped to re-negotiate a better deal with lower rent or fix an amount for which CWPS would buy back all Watermark-owned property.

Watermark paid £70,000-a-year to CWPS but the lease included a break clause.

Speaking exclusively to the Standard Mr Thomas said he wrote a letter to the CWPS three months ago informing them he would no longer be paying rent.

He said: "I have a right to terminate the lease if I am not entirely happy and I am exercising that right.

"I am having a meeting with CWPS next week to determine the best way forward-whether we renegotiate a better lease or walk way from the park.

"The rent is extremely high and not representative of its worth."

Mr Thomas added that he had been unhappy with the lease for the past 18 months.

"The lease gave me the impression that we had a complete tenure over that whole area but that has not come to fruition," he said.

He said he would be happy to run the park under the right circumstances but would walk away if a lower rent deal was not negotiated next Tuesday.

CWPS could then have to buy Watermark property off the developers and be forced to splash out a £300,000 "break payment".

Tasha Flaherty, joint chief executive officer of the CWPS, said: "We are due to talk to Watermark and have further discussions regarding the future occupation of Keynes Country Park."

Councillor Esmond Jenkins said he was shocked at the news.

"This confirms my view that all those involved on the board and in GCC in this fiasco have to explain themselves," he said.

"Watermark, a private company, will walk away with three years of gate receipts, and thousands of pounds from landfill.

"This is a scandalous way to manage a valuable public assets. Heads need to roll and roll quickly."