| 3 June 2007
Does Stonehenge deserve to be a World Heritage site?
A former British Transport and Heritage minister is calling for Stonehenge to be removed from the list of World Heritage sites. Salisbury's Conservative MP Robert Key says money for overdue improvements is being diverted to the Olympics. He is now writing to the Chief Executive of the UNESCO committee who meet in June saying British government Ministers should be called to account. He claims government commitments to improve the site have not been met. "A plan is there which has been discussed endlessly but they've failed to make a decision," he said.
A £600m plan to drill a tunnel for the nearby A303 trunk road and build a major new visitor centre has been on review for more than a year after Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said costs had risen too far. But those campaigning to preserve the unique archaeology of the region say the plan is the only compromise that could work.
Archaeologist and Labour Party activist Tony Robinson said he was very worried about the future of Stonehenge. In an interview with the BBC's Politics Show he accused government minister's of 'leeching' on the iconic image of the monument to win the bid for the Olympics bid, only to let it down at the 11th hour. "As a nation we're in danger of letting Stonehenge down badly. Most politicians don't get heritage, they think they can just leech on it, exploit it, that it doesn't need tending. "
English Heritage, who run Stonehenge, do not dispute visitor facilities and access is inadequate but they still hope improvements will be made in time for the Olympics. "It is a stated aim of Visit Britain and the government to maximise the benefits of hosting the Olympics," a spokesman said.
Source: BBC News (3 June 2007)
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