New measures revealed to defend Sandal Castle

Date: 30/09/2016
Ref: PR 8359a

Wakefield Council is announcing new measures to combat vandals at Sandal Castle and is asking people to help respect and protect one of the district's key historic sites.

Last week vandals attacked the remains of the medieval castle spraying graffiti on the monument, which will potentially cost thousands of pounds to rectify. Days later, a car was recklessly driven on the castle slopes damaging the fragile hillside.

Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said: "Sandal Castle is part of our heritage and I want to reinforce our commitment to do everything we can to respect and protect it, but we need people's help too.

"This latest spate of vandalism is reprehensible and will have a significant impact on our finances to rectify. We are working with Historic England to identify the specialist contractors needed to deal with this and we will have to find the funds to pay for it. Unfortunately, it won't be quick, easy or cheap but we will find a way to do it.

"We are now going to put in temporary CCTV and increase targeted night time security, as well as looking into installing barriers to prevent vehicle access. I urge anyone who sees the vandals in action to report it immediately on 0345 8 506 506. Please help us to stamp out this mindless destruction."

Wakefield Council is also working with West Yorkshire Police to look at ways to prevent any future anti-social behaviour. Litter patrols will be increased on the site and the Council is continuing with efforts to find a tenant for the visitor centre, as well as vigorously exploring all possible avenues to attract external funding to repair the bridges and walkways around the site.

These have been closed since March following an inspection that found them to be unsafe. Initial indications are that the work to reinstate them will cost over £175,000.

Cllr Shaw said: "With over £146m wiped off our budget by the Government's funding cuts, there is no doubt that we are in a very difficult financial situation.

"Wherever we can we will support our heritage but the significant investment needed for this is just not available at the moment. This is why we are looking at all possible avenues for external funding support.

"The visitor centre was closed as a direct result of budget cuts, but we remain determined to find a suitable tenant who will breathe new life into the building."

Wakefield Council will be joining the Friends of Sandal Castle at their next meeting to see how the Council and the group can work closer together to benefit the site.

Cllr Shaw said: "Friends groups and other volunteer groups play such a valuable role in our communities and do a great job. I want to see how we can pull together to protect Sandal Castle.

"We are very proud that Sandal Castle is part of history and want to encourage people to visit. Come and enjoy our heritage but please help respect and protect it by not dropping litter or causing damage to the monument by climbing on it, and please help us tackle the vandals by reporting any incidents as soon as possible."

Ends

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