Tories say Labour has cut heritage budget by 38% since 1997
Some of Britain's most famous historic sites are at risk as the number being saved for the nation declines amid budget cuts, according to a report published today.
The Tory party accused the Government of "betraying" the country's heritage after it emerged that only 57 threatened sites were renovated in the past year, while 69 were added to the "at risk" register. It is the first time since the list was drawn up nine years ago that the drive has gone into reverse.
The sites in jeopardy include Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans and the most popular tourist attraction in northern England; the Frogmore Estate near Windsor Castle, the resting place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; the site of the 1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire; and Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.
In total there are 30,600 listed buildings, 19,600 archaeological sites, 1,590 parks and gardens, 43 battlefields and 45 wrecks on the register. Yet English Heritage has cut the value of its "at risk" grants from 8m to 4.1m since 1999. "With more and more of our wonderful heritage under threat, the Government must act before some of our best loved sites are left to rot," said Jeremy Hunt, the shadow Culture Secretary.
He condemned Labour for siphoning off funds raised by the National Lottery to public services and the 2012 Olympics, saying that returning 40m a year to the heritage budget would generate millions and "help restore some of these wonderful sites to their full glory".
The Tories claimed public funding for Britain's heritage has fallen by 38 per cent since Labour came to power in 1997. They said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had cut the number of officials working on heritage matters by almost a quarter and reduced the share of its budget going to heritage from one- sixth to one-tenth. …