Royston history society ‘devastated’ as town council takes over cave

PUBLISHED: 08:37 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:42 05 October 2018

An historic shot of what is now the cave shop and entrance. Picture: Royston and District Local History Society

An historic shot of what is now the cave shop and entrance. Picture: Royston and District Local History Society

Archant

Members of the Royston and District Local History Society have said they are devastated that management of the town’s cave has been taken from them “without reason”.

Royston and District Local History Society members have said they are devastated that cave management has been placed back with Royston Town Council. Picture: Royston and District Local History SocietyRoyston and District Local History Society members have said they are devastated that cave management has been placed back with Royston Town Council. Picture: Royston and District Local History Society

Royston Town Council informed the history society it would be taking over cave management back in June, and their last day at the helm was Sunday.

The society’s Rosemary Bateman said: “We are devastated and cannot believe that the council could make this decision, without giving a reason and no chance for dialogue to try to resolve whatever was on their agenda.”

Royston and District Local History Society first took over managing the cave in 1969, after Royston Urban District Council decided to close it down “due to not making a profit”.

Soon after the takeover the electrics failed, but they resorted to candles while repairs were carried out. Undeterred, they felt strongly that the monument should be open to all.

In December 1998, rights were granted to Royston Town Council and the history society managed the cave on the authority’s behalf, but that has now ceased.

Mrs Bateman said: “The council has also requested that we hand over all our publications relating to the cave as well as the DVDs and even as far as the telephone that is installed in the cave for emergencies – as well as the ticket machine and minor items like candles.

“We did however refuse to give up our publications for which we had paid, but agreed to forward them a copy of each as well as 10 copies of the DVDs which I think was more than generous.

“I feel that we have been badly treated by the council, with no thought to the work that has been put in for the good of this important monument and opening it for the town and visitors to enjoy for 50 years.”

A Royston Town Council spokeswoman said: “Due to the retirement of the existing cave manager, the decision was made to bring the cave management back in house.

“The history society has always retained all the income from the running of the cave which, in most years, has substantially exceeded any expenditure.

“They have made donations towards the upkeep and maintenance of the cave and Royston’s museum out of the income received. Royston Town Council has also incurred expenditure for the cave at an average of £6,000 per annum, despite receiving none of the income.

“The town council has formally recorded their thanks to the history society, in the minutes of their meeting held on June 25.

“Royston Town Council has pleasure in welcoming the new cave manager, Nicky Paton, who is an experienced cave guide having worked there for the last three years. We wish Nicky every success in his new role.”

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