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Government kills off DCM's Stonehenge Visitor Centre
Ah... is this place cursed??

I would have a wry smile if it was not for the millions spent already.. and I mean millions!
Is this the thick end of a thicker wedge?


For commentary on this... see the following

As Mike Pitts says

Quote:You can see just looking down that list that Stonehenge is quite different from the others. And consider what Alexander said:
? his predecessor as chief secretary, had gone on a ?pre-election spending spree in the full knowledge that the government had long since run out of money?
? ?As a result of the poor decisions made by the previous government, I have taken the decision to cancel certain projects that do not represent good value for money?
? ?projects had been approved [by the previous government] with no money in place to pay for them?
? ?I am determined to deal with this problem head-on and ensure we never see this kind of irresponsible financial planning in government again?
What has any of that got to do with Stonehenge? It was the Labour government that cancelled a far more expensive Stonehenge scheme (estimated to cost well over ?540m) late in 2007, on the grounds that it ?would not represent best use of taxpayers? money?. Labour then replaced it with the much cheaper one that was explicitly billed as being cost-effective, ?temporary? and aimed at having Stonehenge acceptable for the 2012 Olympics visitors.
I suspect there is an element of Yes Minister about this announcement ...... ?25m is a piss in the ocean compared to the overall figure, but few, if any, of the other projects that will be cut can generate easily recognisable (dare I say it) sexy images ... So Stonehenge is thrown in because it enables the press/media to dress the story around something that the average punter will recognise...According to the Guardian the project could go ahead if private money is found to replace the governement maybe if we all chipped in a little it might still go ahead. Perhaps they could sell advertising rights to fund the from 2012 we might be able to visit the 'BAJR Stonehenge Experience'......:face-stir:
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
You're probably right KW

Well, I would pay to have my company logo projected on to the stones but ONLY if I got the A303 side. Most of the traffic is static for a good fifteen minutes and it could be a cost effective way of advertising a heritage company...Big Grin

<<Insert heresey chip>>.....why don't they just move it away from the need for major roadworks...just shuffle it a few hundred yards to the left...!}Smile
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
personally speaking... I think the BAJR Stonehenge would consist of a site hut portacabin... though which the visitor has to pass through a double line of field archaeologists complaining about the cost spent on the consultations so far... Wink I would pay for that!

Seriously though I think you are right that they are doing the equivalent of throwing the innocent project to the lions to show just how serious they are. What worries me is whether smaller projects, easy targets such as heritage services.. museums, etc. are gently throttled with lost funding and wider council cuts. The need to prove worth will be important. PLUS... if capital projects start to disappear how long before the construction industry shrinks?
It's that favourite phrase of the parliamentarians 'Something muse be seen to be done.' It doesn't have to be right, sensible, useful or even smart. It just has to be seen.

I would ban that phrase and also 'value for money'. Great sins have been committed in the name of both those phrases.

A fund-raising effort for nice cast iron lamp posts, sturdy enough to display the offenders might be possible.
Prime practitioner of headology, with a side order of melting glass with a stern glare.
Did anyone catch the National Trust guy on TV last night - he seemed very keen on taking over the whole project from EH if it could be arranged....kept going on about it being a money making scheme and no trouble raising the finance privately.....possibly this is what the government had in mind? :face-stir:
It wouldn't exactly be the National Trust taking over...they do after all own Stonehenge....

I have just heard a staement from EH on Radio 4 that says they hope the project will go ahead with funding from an alternative source. So that's OK then.....its a load of fuss about nothing...
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
I didn;t hear that Dinosaur, but I suspect he is possibly right. Stonehenge brings in a lot of reliable revenue, its something like the 4th most visited tourist attraction in the UK. The government had only comitted to a 10m spend out of a 27.5m project, so it entirely possible that the rest of the money could also be raised thorough investment and sponsorship. It would be great if there was a solution which did non piss away all the resources which have gone into this in recent years.
Fact: Government funding decision for Stonehenge pre-date 1 January 2010, with ?10m having been committed in 16 October 2009.

The misrepresentation and lack of credibility in this decision can be further illustrated in comments attributed to the former Conservative members for Salisbury and Bournemouth (East), who provide a useful narrative reflecting Conservative interest during Opposition and highlighting the debacle that is government policy on Stonehenge.

The first from Property Week in an article published 12 Dec 2007 following announcement that the A303 road improvement scheme was to be dropped:

“We’ve had to wait 21 years for a visitors centre,” local Conservative MP Robert Key said. “It is a huge disappointment that the government has decided to do nothing with the roads. It underlines the complete incompetence of successive governments.”
He added that it was now essential a new temporary visitor centre was open by 2012. (

Perhaps the most prescient statements is in the final sentence in a question put down to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett) in 19 Jan 2009:

Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): May I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Robert Key), who has spent an awful lot of time on Salisbury plain campaigning on the important issue of the Stonehenge visitor centre? [I][ Interruption. ] For 20 years, the Minister says. He has been there so long that he probably deserves honorary druid status. Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said of the Government. They have spent ?30 million on paper exercises, and still nothing happens. How long do we have to wait for some leadership? A Tory social action project would have had the work done by now. What is staggering is that we are the fifth biggest economic power in the world and the sixth most popular country to visit, and still we cannot even build a half-decent visitor centre for our top outdoor tourist attraction. Stonehenge is a timeless monument, but it seems that this Government can find no time to support it.[/I]

And irony of irony, as recently as Nov 9 2009, Robert Keys MP was seeking DCMS commitment to extend its agreed funding. Hansard records the following question he put down to the Minister of State:
Robert Key (Salisbury): Whether his Department's proposed funding for the visitor centre at Stonehenge includes provision for partnership joint funding of Stonehenge galleries at (a) Salisbury and (b) Devizes museum.
Thanks Ken. It seems to not be the case that this is the government cutting spending commitments made 'in the last few weeks' of the labour administration, as their line in the media claims.

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