Page last updated at 20:38 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Money for castle repairs rejected

Caldicot Castle
Caldicot Castle is set in 55 acres of country park

A councillor has lost his fight to restore a castle, but says his campaign will go on.

Monmouthshire councillors rejected Tony Easson's call for funding to be "sourced immediately" by the authority to make repairs to Caldicot Castle.

Problems include the roof of the south-west tower leaking and windows rotting in the banqueting hall.

The council said it would like to restore the castle but there were other priorities, such as schools.

But Mr Easson claimed other councillors wanted to "play around with my words" in the meaning of his proposal.

He said he wanted the authority's assistance in finding money from the lottery and other grants, but not necessarily to fund the repairs by itself.

'Jewel in the crown'

"My campaign will continue - I've got support from my colleagues and the march will go on," he said.

"You can't change the world overnight."

"The way forward is for local people to come forward and push for grants from the lottery."

Mr Easson said he was confident a reworded proposal in January would be approved.

"It's a jewel in the crown of Monmouthshire, a jewel in the crown particularly for Caldicot. It's important for Caldicot because it's all we've really got," he said.

"We're a village stuck between two motorways and we've got to try to get people into Caldicot to prime Caldicot's economy."

The castle was founded by the Normans, developed in royal hands as a stronghold in the Middle Ages and restored as a Victorian family home.

The Cobb family, who bought the castle in the 19th Century, sold it to Chepstow Rural District Council for 12,000 in 1962. It reopened to the public in 1967.

You could easily spend 1m on Caldicot Castle and not notice it
Monmouthshire County Council

The castle, set in 55 acres of country park, now hosts many events including weddings, medieval banquets and film nights.

Monmouthshire County Council's corporate director of resources, environment and regeneration Steve Greenslade said the authority would love to restore the castle but the problem was a shortage of cash.

"Certainly I agree that there's work there that could usefully be done and that applies to all our buildings," he said.

"We've got over a 20m backlog in building maintenance and we can only do what's affordable and what's required for health and safety purposes.

"You could easily spend 1m on Caldicot Castle and not notice it but equally we've got schools, care centres which need money and they are our priority quite frankly."

But Mr Easson said the current financial situation should not always dictate what the council does.

"There are certain priorities in life at the moment but equally our heritage is just as important," he said.

"I believe everyone in Caldicot should love it [the castle] and everyone in Caldicot should come forward and fight for it."

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