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Castle gate access row averted

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Fears that an electronic gate to be installed at the car park of Donnington Castle to deter anti-social behaviour would hamper early morning entry to the grounds have been eased after confirmation that new opening hours had been set.
The Newbury Weekly News can reveal that when the new security gate is installed, the car park will be open from 7am until 7pm, instead of 9.30am until 6.30pm as currently listed at the entrance to the beauty spot.
The Donnington Square Residents Association felt that the later opening time would prevent many visitors to the castle who have enjoyed early morning visits for more than 25 years, and expressed concern that attempts to raise the issue were going ignored.
Like many others, Donnington Square resident Isabel Gowers said she had used the car park at 7.30am for more than 14 years without issue.
“I understand the need to protect the site from people who make a mess of it but I believe this happens at night. I have never seen anyone causing any trouble first thing in the morning,” she said.
An agreement has been reached between Thames Valley Police, Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, English Heritage, and the landowner where the car park is situated to install the new gate with the extended opening hours.
The broken gate currently at the site has meant cars and vans could drive up to Donnington Castle at any time of the day and night, resulting in theft and vandalism not just to the historic structure but to nearby properties as well.
The issue came to a head in January when it was decided action needed to be taken, and with English Heritage and the local parish council expressing concern a plan was formulated.
Despite best efforts to monitor activity, the several parties agreed that a better gate and stricter enforcement of access would be the best way to cut down on problems.
Pedestrians will still be able to gain access to the historic 14th century attraction at all times however, as the route is a right of way.

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