Wiltshire

Government funding for Stonehenge visitor centre axed

Planned visitor centre at Stonehenge
Image caption A statement on the project's future is due to be made on 30 June

Proposals for a new £25m visitor centre at Stonehenge are in doubt after funding is cut by the government.

English Heritage said it was "extremely disappointed" that £10m promised would not be forthcoming - but said it did not mean it was the end of the project.

It had wanted to move the visitor centre 1.5m (2.4km) away from the stones and to divert the nearby A344.

The remaining £15m was due to come from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other private sources.

'Global significance'

An English Heritage spokesman said "Stonehenge is a project of global significance.

"It's Britain's premier World Heritage Site. It was a key feature in Britain's bid for the London Olympics.

"Transforming the monument's setting and the visitor experience is vital to Britain's reputation, and to our tourism industry, especially in 2012 but also thereafter."

The cuts are part of £2bn of savings made by the coalition government.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told MPs the cuts were necessary to tackle the budget deficit and would be done in a "fair" way.

He said the previous government had gone on a "pre-election spending spree in the full knowledge that the government had long since run out of money".

'Hugely disappointed'

"As a result of the poor decisions made by the previous government, I have taken the decision to cancel certain projects that do not represent good value for money, and suspend others pending full consideration in the spending review," he added.

Wiltshire Council said it was "hugely disappointed" that the funding had been withdrawn.

"It is difficult to see the logic, given the government's emphasis on maximising the benefits from the 2012 Olympics.

"Stonehenge is an important generator of funding for the government through its agency, English Heritage.

"The improved facilities would have dramatically raised the standard of welcome and facilities for visitors, increased the length of stay within Wiltshire and increased visitor spend," he added.

English Heritage Commission is expected to make a statement about the future of the project on 30 June.

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