Anger over admission charge plan for Glasgow Cathedral
Plans to charge visitors to Glasgow Cathedral have attracted criticism from the church's minister and sparked an online petition against the move.
Historic Scotland, which looks after the medieval building, is considering charges of up to £5 from 1 April next year to help with maintenance.
Minister of the cathedral, Rev Dr Laurence Whitley, said he was concerned this would deter visitors.
Hundreds of people have also signed an online petition against the proposal.
A spokesman for Historic Scotland said: "We are investigating the possibility of charging for admission for visitors to Glasgow Cathedral.
"In line with many other cathedrals which perform a dual function as both a place of worship and a visitor attraction, any admission charge introduced would apply to visitors only and would not affect worshippers with any income generated from the introduction of a proposed admission charge reinvested into the cathedral and the wider historic environment.
"Discussions with the Church of Scotland and other interested parties are on-going."
Dr Whitley said he was concerned that any charge would deter people from the nearby Royal Infirmary using the cathedral during times of emotional stress.
He also said it may deter international visitors to the city.
"This would be the only attraction, almost in the city, where you would have to pay," he said.
"It has been Glasgow City Council's policy that museums and attractions that they owned would be entirely free and all the ones around here are free.
"I don't know if that's a terribly good message to be sending out that if people come to the mother church of this great city and find that they have to pay £4.50 to get in just to see it."
Rev Whitley cited the case of Chester Cathedral which he said had abandoned a charging policy for admission and reinstated donations boxes.
He said this decision had been taken because it was felt that charging "gave out the wrong signal" and "changed the atmosphere of that particular place of worship".
He added: "That would be my concern that the atmosphere of welcome, the volunteer guides, the peace, the quiet would be changed if it became somewhere that you paid.
"It would just not be what we are here to do."