York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, has welcomed the news that English Heritage will revisit their decision to build a visitor’s centre at the base of Clifford’s Tower. Ms Maskell has been urging English Heritage to rethink their proposal to build a visitor’s centre so close to the historic building since she first learned of the plan in 2016. The plans have faced much opposition from members of the public including a petition to City of York Council which was signed by 4000 people from the local community. There has also been a legal challenge.
Ms Maskell agrees wholeheartedly that there is a need for a visitor’s centre but she wants this to be incorporated into the wider development of the Castle Gateway project and the proposed development of York Castle Museum.
The MP has also repeatedly expressed concern about the wider issues including access to heritage sites that affect many disabled people. Since learning of English Heritage’s plans for the visitor’s centre Ms Maskell has worked with local Labour Councillor, James Flinders and Business Leader and Councillor, Jonny Hayes who invested his own money in mounting a legal challenge.
The MP has lobbied the Council and also met with English Heritage nationally to raise her concerns and she has spoken out in Westminster debates and asked Parliamentary Questions in hope that the charity would think again. Rachael Maskell has also met the Culture Minister to persuade him that the development was not in the interests of local residents.
On hearing the news Rachael Maskell MP says:
“I am glad English Heritage have listened to people’s views. A Visitor Centre will be a huge asset to Clifford’s Tower but locating this within the motte was a mistake and would have spoilt the view of one of York’s most iconic buildings. I am pleased other locations will now be considered and I am willing to work with English Heritage to help find a new site near the tower. I have already arranged to meet with English Heritage to discuss this. Finally, I would like to convey my thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to preserve Clifford’s Tower for future generations. I am particularly grateful to Labour Councillor James Flinders and Business Leader and local Councillor, Jonny Hayes for all the amazing work they have done to bring about this change of heart from English Heritage. This is a great victory for the community and for campaigners. It proves that when people stand up for the things they believe in and speak out about the changes they want to see, politicians working with the community can bring about change. The city belongs to its residents and their opinions matter. I am delighted with the news.”
Labour Councillor for Guildhall Ward, James Flinders says:
“I’m pleased that English Heritage has listened to local residents and will not be building a visitors centre within the motte at Clifford’s Tower. I look forward to working with them to improve the visitor experience at Clifford’s Tower and the surrounding area, which has witnessed some of Yorkshire’s most important moments of history.”
Cllr. Jonny Hayes says:
“Clifford’s Tower is a wonderful landmark. and building the visitor centre into the motte was never a good plan. We can now look forward to a visitor centre as part of the Castle Gateway plans. I am delighted that English Heritage have decided to think again.”