Chris Matheson MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose a budget change that would create more funding for the upkeep of Chester’s walls.
Ahead of the Autumn Budget later this month, Chris Matheson has written to Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to highlight the need for specific funding to support the council’s investment programme in Chester’s historic walls.
Not all councils are responsible for maintaining ancient monuments like Chester’s city walls. Currently, Cheshire West and Chester Council have to use money set aside for investment in highways to also maintain the city’s historic walls.
As a designated ancient monument, any work and maintenance on the walls requires elaborate planning, legal consent and specialist contractors.
“Chester’s walls are a much-loved and iconic feature of our city, and in recent years the council has demonstrated its commitment to their upkeep and restoration through the allocation of specific funding for their maintenance. My worry is that because this pot is linked to the council’s highways budget, and if funding for local government continues to decline then this will ultimately impact either the maintenance of the walls, our roads, or potentially both. We should not be in a position where we have to choose between the safety of our roads or the preservation of the history and identity of our city.”
Describing his proposal to the Chancellor, Chris said:
“Whilst the largest proportion of money spent on the walls since Cheshire West and Chester Council was formed has been spent in more recent years, the average over the past twelve years is around £600,000. Last year the highways funding allocation from the government to Cheshire West and Chester Council was cut by 22%. With more pressure on locally generated resources for highways maintenance and less money coming from central government, this is not a sustainable position.
“My proposal to the Treasury is that the walls are re-profiled as a unique and important historical monument for all of Britain, and that we use the investment record of the local council as a marker to allocate an additional line in Cheshire West and Chester’s funding settlement which must be used exclusively for the upkeep of the historic walls. I have suggested £600,000 per annum based on the past twelve years of expenditure.”