'Most romantic site' Tintagel Castle faces winter weekday closure
STAFF at a North Cornwall visitor attraction have been left heartbroken after being told on Valentine's Day that it was to reduce its opening hours.
Tintagel Castle, the most visited site in Cornwall, is to be closed on winter weekdays from the end of the coming season.
Shocked staff were told the news on Monday, Valentine's Day, the very day that English Heritage advertised that facebook fans had voted it as their most romantic site in Britain.
Staff were said to be distressed, particularly after winning awards for their outstanding customer service.
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The castle and its links with the legend of King Arthur draws almost 200,000 visitors a year, many of them from overseas, particularly America.
Over 100 people visited the site on Monday, the day that Alex Page, the assistant visitor operations director travelled down from Birmingham to tell staff of the winter closure plans.
English Heritage told the Cornish Guardian that they were in consultations but that they propose that the 62 properties, including Tintagel Castle, which are currently open between November and March, would open only at the weekends (with the exception of Stonehenge and Kenwood House in north London).
The news, which almost certainly will involve redundancy for some of the 30 full or part-time staff, has also shocked businesses in the tourism-centred village.
Roger Wickett, the chairman of Tintagel Parish Council, said it would have a big effect on the community.
"We understand it is a national decision, but you only have to look at the village today to see that there are a lot of people around.
"It will have an impact on the local economy and affect many people in the village. We will make representations to English Heritage about our disappointment and hope that they can remain open, even if it means a smaller staff on winter weekdays.
"People come to see the castle all year, especially in the early spring. We don't have a meeting until the first Wednesday in March, but I'm sure the parish council will back me on making representations to English Heritage."
Many of the staff are represented by the Commercial and Public Services Union who said English Heritage had been hit by a massive cut in the grant it gets from Government.
It said there would be a three-month consultation before redundancies but warned "the chance of overturning the decision is low".
The union advised: "Concerted public pressure, political intervention and the activities of local tourist boards is more likely to be successful."