Caldicot Castle re-opening set for delay
CALDICOT Castle will not re-open to the public on March 1 after a health and safety improvement notice was served on owners Monmouthshire council.
An investigation was carried out after an elderly woman fell 15 feet from the castle’s drawbridge in October last year.
The woman was rescued by firefighters from the dry moat and taken to hospital.
Shortly afterwards the council said: “Vandalism had taken place and this had compromised some of the railings” on the drawbridge.
Nowthe castle’s owners must comply with an improvement notice served by the Health and Safety Executive, or risk being fined up to £20,000 or taken to court.
A spokesman for the executive said: “The HSE issued the notice because the council’s procedures for identifying and acting on defects which posed a danger to staff or the public were inadequate in areas run by the authority’s countryside department.”
The council has been advised how to make changes at the site, which had 28,600 visitors in 2012, up from 22,600 in 2011.
These include having a systematic approach to the completion of risk assessments, procedures detailing the organisational arrangements for preventative and protective measures and ensuring everyone involved with the castle’s health and safety has adequate information, instruction and training.
“The castle will re-open for the 2013 season on March 23, when we are looking forward to its 50th anniversary of public ownership,” said the council’s countryside manager,Matthew Lewis.
“The works are based around the repairs required to the handrail following vandalism, and we are taking the opportunity not only to repair but also to improve the appearance of the handrails and approach to the castle.
“The works will require the drawbridge area to be enclosed with a secure hoarding, so we are also taking this opportunity to inspect the drawbridge structure and carry out any repairs that become apparent when the structure is opened up.”
The council is considering whether or not to let visitors enter the castle free-of-charge on non-event days to boost trade at its café. It is also looking for new caterers after Crown Hotels and Restaurants Limited pulled out.