A RESTAURANT and hotel chain has handed the responsibility for catering arrangements at Caldicot Castle back to the local council, blaming tough economic conditions.

Earlier this year, Crown Hotels and Restaurants Limited was awarded the tender by Monmouthshire council to supply catering at the castle for five years.

But the company has decided to call it a day and will hand responsibility back to the council, Caldicot Castle’s owner, at the end of January.

Crown Hotels and Restaurants Ltd, which also owns The Crown at Whitebrook, said all bookings for medieval banquets and weddings at the castle will be honoured.

Michael Davies, from the company, said the market has “moved considerably” ince it became directly involved with running the inhouse catering at the castle.

He said: “Due to the current challenging economic climate and competition for customers’ money from competing attractions there simply isn’t the demand for banquets as in years past. We have, therefore, with a degree of reluctance decided to call it a day.”

He said the company will continue to meets its obligations for the rest of the year and through to 2014 in terms of banquet and wedding bookings already taken.

But after the end of January, it will work with Monmouthshire council to handle outside event bookings on “an ad hoc, event by event basis”.

A spokesman for the council said: “As a result of recent discussions, agreement has been reached for Crown Hotels and Restaurants to hand back the catering arrangements to Monmouthshire County Council at the end of January next year.

“As a result the county council, as owners and operators of Caldicot Castle, will be making alternative arrangements to ensure that visitors to the Castle in 2013 are able to access quality catering facilities and to accommodate future weddings and other events.”