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'English Heritage is wrong about stones'
6:00am Thursday 17th January 2013 in Salisbury Letters
WELL done Don Cross (Journal, January 10). As the blue badge guide trainer in Salisbury he trained me and dozens of other tourist guides for the local and regional areas. As a consequence the profile of Salisbury and the surrounding area as a venue for tourism has been enhanced.
He knows what visitors want and, I suggest, knows it better in this area than English Heritage.
I feel that the new visitor centre for Stonehenge will be a costly white elephant, primarily because of its position so far from the monument. I am sure David Andrews of VisitWiltshire is right when he says visitor numbers may drop in the short term.
I am sorry to suggest that they will remain low as people get to hear of the challenge they will face in all weathers to actually get to the stones. I feel that English Heritage has a hidden agenda, which is to make it difficult for all but the dedicated or hardy tourist to visit the monument, which will be magnificently unpolluted by the number of visitors we get today.
I see English Heritage said it cannot afford blue plaques for buildings. What a shame it could manage to afford this.
JOHN CUTLAND, Wilton
As pointed out by Don Cross, difficulty of access to Stonehenge from the new visitor centre will seriously deter visitors.
Some might be interested enough to linger in the visitor centre but many, especially coach tourists, want to complete their visit in one hour.
The only way to achieve this is not to provide a fairground ‘Noddy’ train but a means of moving hundreds of people per hour right to the monument.
The only environmentally friendly way to achieve this is to lay tram tracks on the route of the existing A344 and run trams without overhead wires, as in Bordeaux, ending in an underground terminal at the site of the present inadequate facilities.
This proposal has been put to English Heritage but not taken up.
The cost of such a tramway is not excessive and is on a scale comparable with expenditure so far on planning.
CHRISTOPHER PENFOLD, Salisbury
I am dismayed by the arrogant attitude of VisitWiltshire (Journal, January 10).
To say that new visitor arrangements at Stonehenge mean that “coach operators … will have to change their programme” is a bit like Tesco only opening at night and telling customers to change their shopping habits.
I doubt the stones – which one cannot get close to – and an exhibition – which could be replicated anywhere in the world of comfortable hotels – have enough pulling power.
I side with the tour guides: I’d much prefer to spend an extra hour sitting in a Bath or Windsor tea room, than standing about on Salisbury Plain.
I am reminded of that other soppy notion that if you make people pay for two hours’ parking they will stay for two hours. No – they just don’t come at all.
I do hope I’m wrong about Stonehenge and that the people who run the county are not as foolish as they sometimes appear to be.
TOLLEY TAYLOR, Burcombe