Following the recent controversy over the closure of Maeshowe, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur used First Ministers Questions today to press Nicola Sturgeon to ensure Orkney’s world class attractions are served by world class facilities.
Historic Environment Scotland confirmed this week that Maeshowe will re-open to the public, operating a shuttle bus while new safety measures, including barriers and road signage, are to be installed.
Speaking in the chamber, Mr McArthur called on the First Minister to accept that a “planned shuttlebus system can only be a temporary solution.” He added: “can the First Minister therefore encourage Historic Environment Scotland to act on the planning permission it already has for a visitor centre, car park and pedestrian underpass?”
Responding, the First Minister confirmed she would be “happy to encourage those discussions to proceed.”
Following the exchanges, Liam McArthur MSP said:
“Maeshowe is a world-class tourist attraction and therefore deserves to be served by world-class facilities that allow the many visitors to our islands to experience Orkney’s rich history. While it is good news that Maeshowe will now be open to the public, the current arrangements can only be a short term fix.
“I welcome the First Minister’s assurances today that she will seek to encourage discussions between Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and key stakeholders to take forward plans for a more appropriate, long term solution. This needs to reflect the international significance of this site and its importance to Orkney’s tourism sector.
“The First Minister agreed that the Culture Minister will keep me informed of progress. Meantime, I plan to meet with Historic Environment Scotland’s new Chief Executive, Alex Patterson, and will impress upon him the need to get this right. HES already has planning permission for a visitor centre, car park and pedestrian underpass. We need to see Orkney’s world class attractions get the world class facilities they deserve”.