Kenliworth Weekly News (UK local newspaper)
OUTRAGE OVER PLAN TO CHARGE FOR CASTLE ENTRY
Should Kenilworth people have to pay to get into the castle?
Published Date: 05 September 2003
Abolishing free resident access to Kenilworth Castle has met with fierce opposition.
Guardians of the castle English Heritage are to put an end to the privileges currently enjoyed by townsfolk, who can get into the castle without paying.
Instead, they will allow residents to bring in children free of charge, and get reduced prices for certain events.
But many are furious at the reduced benefits and want a public consultation before the decision is implemented.
Archer Road resident Graham Gould said: “What gives them the right to do this?
“There must be someone who can help us take English Heritage on. It sounds like this is going to go ahead – the only way to prove it shouldn’t is by taking them to court – and who can afford that? It will be another example of a good thing gone from Kenilworth.”
He wants the town council to find the castle deeds or a document which proves it belongs to the people – not English Heritage.
He said: “This should have been aired in public. Kenilworth people ought to know what’s going on. The town council is a waste of space.”
The castle has been free for Kenilworth residents for at least 50 years. They can collect proof of being on the electoral roll from the town council offices in Southbank Road and then show these at the castle entrance.
Mr Gould said: “About a third of the visitors to the castle are Kenilworth people.
“If they have to pay, they won’t go back. I always understood the castle belonged to the people of Kenilworth, under guardianship of English Heritage. But they are doing whatever they like.”
Kenilworth mayor Coun Doug Golby claims nothing has been set in stone.
He said: “Any issue like this would be discussed first. Our view is the castle is free for all residents of the town, for always. There can be no watering down of that.
“English Heritage is custodian only. It is our castle and we would take grave exception to any move to charge residents or restrict their rights.”
Phil Hackett is English Heritage assistant director of visitor operations in the West Midlands. He met with the town clerk last week.
Mr Hackett said: “Our aim is to make the scheme easier to administrate and less costly to run. Kenilworth residents will be able to bring an unlimited number of children into the castle for free and enjoy reduced entry into events.”