Town council gets green light to take on Wisbech Castle with a long lease and £150,000 county council loan to carry out repairs
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Historic Wisbech Castle is to be transferred to Wisbech Town Council on a long lease with a peppercorn rent and £150,000 loan from the county council repayable over 25 years to carry out repairs and improvements.
The package was agreed today at Shire Hall and followed an impassioned appeal by Wisbech Town Council leader Sam Hoy who presented the commercial and investments committee with a business plan.
Accompanied by the mayor Steve Tierney she said: “We both gave presentations, aware that the outcome of this committee would be vital to the future of this valuable community asset.
“I am so pleased to say that the committee supported our bid in its entirety. Now we can go forward to protect and maintain the castle as a community asset and as a vital part of the town’s heritage for residents for many years to come.”
Cllr Hoy reported on the immense amount of work and research conducted since last September when the county council decided it wanted to part with the castle.
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She said at one stage talks were held about joint management with the museum but the idea was vetoed when the museum representatives said they were “not keen to work with the town council to create any sort of large trust to manage both buildings. They did not feel that they have the capacity”.
She felt the Grade II listed castle “should provide a welcoming, enjoyable environment which the community are able to benefit from both the heritage of the building and as a place of learning and leisure. It should be recognised as an integral part of the town’s proud historic past and the distinctive and diverse present”.
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Her report – backed by the town council – envisages Wisbech Castle as being able to cater for a variety of community needs, education and learning, culture and heritage, civic and ceremonial (including weddings) and space for community meetings. She was adamant the town council would work to ensure is would not place an unnecessary burden upon local council tax payers.
Her budget proposals show an expected income – but not in the first year – of around £46,000 that would include £500 from hiring it out for filming to £2,000 for holiday lets, £3,000 from a gift shop, and £7,200 from civic ceremonies. Possible tours of the dungeons are also being considered.
The town’s information centre might also be moved to the castle.