Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today written to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) calling for “a solution that will allow Maeshowe to reopen as soon as possible.”
Last week, HES confirmed that Maeshowe will close on September 26th, and will not re-open until HES’s health and safety concerns are addressed.
HES had recently been working with Orkney Islands Council to develop access to the visitor centre, although a plan has not yet been committed to.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“During parliament’s scrutiny of the legislation that created Historic Environment Scotland (HES), heavy emphasis was placed on the commitment of HES and the Scottish Government to strong partnership working. Given the lack of prior warning ahead of this decision being taken, it is difficult to see how this is being honoured in practice.
“HES previously claimed that Maeshowe would not shut. Now it insists that it has no option, based on health and safety concerns. Yet Maeshowe and Tormiston Mill are to remain open until the end of the month.
“This whole matter has been very poorly handled. Moving forward, however, it is imperative that a resolution is found as quickly as possible, to head off potential damage to Orkney’s vital tourism sector. I know that Orkney Islands Council are due to meet with HES shortly and hope those discussions prove constructive. I have also requested a meeting with HES and sought assurances from the Minister that she will intervene to help ensure that this does not drag on.
“Maeshowe is too important to Orkney’s heritage and tourism sectors. Whatever safeguards are felt necessary and proportionate, we need to see it open and accessible to the public.”