Row over parking spaces as Cardigan Castle work starts

The parking spaces have been fenced off The parking spaces have been fenced off in Cardigan

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Councillors and businesses have attacked a decision to fence off around 15 parking spaces so work can start on a £10m castle restoration.

The objectors in Cardigan claim they were not consulted by council highways chiefs, and said the work should be delayed until after the holiday season.

The town plays host to a food festival this weekend, while a Quay Festival is at the end of the month.

Officials have apologised, but said the disruption would be worth it.

The project to restore 12th Century Cardigan Castle is set to create about 19 jobs.

Plans include a museum, workshops and a cafe, while the castle walls, buildings and gardens will be revamped.

The aim is to increase visitor numbers from 3,000 to 30,000 a year.

Start Quote

We are really sorry that the parking places outside the castle will be temporarily out of bounds, but the ultimate spin-off for the town with a rejuvenated castle site will be well worth it”

End Quote Steffan Crosby Cardigan Castle director

But town and county councillor John Adams Lewis said withdrawing the parking spaces, in an area called the Strand, should have been delayed until after the holiday season in September.

"We had a transport committee on 22 June and nothing was said at that meeting," he said.

"We should have been told what was proposed in the Strand. I think it's not fair on the tourists, it's not fair on the businesses in town struggling at the moment because of the economic downturn."

Business owner Keith Davies, who is treasurer of the town's traders' group, said with all the unseasonal weather businesses were hoping for a better August.

"Nobody's been told this was going to happen in August," he said.

"We do understand that it doesn't matter what time you did this it would offend some people, but surely they could have waited until September."

Castle director Steffan Crosby apologised for the disruption, but said it would be worth it.

"It's fantastic to see this work finally getting under way. The walls are one of the tricky parts of the project and also the most visible," he said.

'Aspirations'

"We are really sorry that the parking places outside the castle will be temporarily out of bounds, but the ultimate spin-off for the town with a rejuvenated castle site will be well worth it."

Ceredigion council, which is responsible for highways, said the restoration of Cardigan Castle was important for the town.

"The funding of the project requires that the castle opens in April 2014 and failure to achieve this would result in the loss of funding and the aspirations to see a restored castle would not be achieved," said a spokeswoman.

"In granting permission for the fencing the council had to take into account the effect on funding if permission was refused at this time, but it also had to balance this against the need for parking in the town and keeping the extent of the fencing down to a minimum."

The building is regarded as the first stone castle built by the Welsh princes and was the stronghold of Rhys ap Gruffydd, prince of Deheubarth.

It is also said to have hosted what is regarded to be Wales' first eisteddfod.

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