Driving rain didn’t stop protesters joining a demonstration against the Clifford’s Tower development in York on Sunday (November 6).
Campaigners circled the Eye of York carrying placards saying Wrong building, wrong place and Keep Off The Grass, and chanting “Clifford’s Tower visitor centre – do we want it? No”.
They then gathered below the ancient castle to hear speakers condemn the plan for a visitor centre built into the motte.
Demo organiser Cllr Johnny Hayes urged people to write to the Culture Secretary, while York Central MP Rachael Maskell revealed she was having a meeting with Historic England, which is funding the plans, next week.
But Liz Page, the historic properties director (north) for English Heritage, told Minster FM that many people supported the plans.
She said: “One point to remember is that we will spend half a million pounds conserving the actual tower itself.”
Is there any room for compromise? “We are always open to listen to people with any constructive suggestions.
“It’s important to remember that we went through two years of consultation and research to get to this point and it’s this plan that does have planning permission.”
Here’s what the protesters had to say.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central
There are some simple solutions in this. We have got an ugly car park sitting there that we could put the visitor centre on, instead of destroying this wonderful site which so many people come to see.
I believe that when over 3,000 people speak, their voices must be heard.
Johnny Hayes, independent councillor
I was horrified that the guardians of our heritage were the people that were proposing this. And I think we all know quite well what the reasoning behind that was.
The government have given £80m to English Heritage to invest in visitor centres like this so that money can be made. The primary function of that visitor centre is a commercial centre.
On the very doorstep of this beautiful iconic tower we have a very ugly car park. Why is this not being built on the car park? It seems an obvious choice.
Shall I tell you why? Because there is something more precious than ancient buildings in York and we know what that is: cars.
James Flinders, Labour councillor for Guildhall
We really strongly want to improve this attraction, but we need to do it in the right way. I call on both English Heritage, and Historic England who are funding this, to give more time so that the planning application can be amended to fit in with the surrounding area.
Brian Watson, former Labour councillor for Guildhall
That’s what people come to see – the stark reality of the dark and the interesting past of the city. To alter it takes away at least half that. People are not going to wander down these streets to see an information centre.
The whole thing is an absolute disgrace.