Druids worried over future of Stonehenge visitor centre

Image caption,
Mr Pendragon hopes the funding blow will not mean a private takeover

A leading member of the druid community is calling for Stonehenge to be protected from private investment.

It follows a government announcement that £10m of funding for a new visitor centre on the site was being cut.

English Heritage said it planned to find the rest of the money from elsewhere and will make a statement on the project's future on 30 June.

Senior druid Arthur Pendragon said he hoped the funding blow would not lead to Stonehenge becoming commercialised.

"I approached English Heritage and said one thing I would oppose would be any private public partnership because I don't want to see Americans going back in 2012 with T-shirts saying, 'I've been to McDonald's, Stonehenge'," he said.

"I've been assured by English Heritage that it is their intention, should the government pull the plug, which they have now done, to go ahead with the visitor centre and they will raise the money internally and that has satisfied me."

Image caption,
A statement on the project's future is due to be made on 30 June

The current visitor centre was put up in 1968 as a temporary measure.

English Heritage wants to create a £25m facility 1.5 miles (2.4km) away from the stones and to divert the nearby A344.

The previous government had pledged £10m. The remaining £15m was due to come from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other private sources.

King Arthur Pendragon, formerly known as John Rothwell, staged a sit-in protest at Stonehenge last year.

He wanted English Heritage to allow better access to the world heritage site, a stretch of the A344 to be closed and ancient remains, removed for study last summer, to be replaced.

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