MP calls for open door palace policy

A Norfolk MP last night called on the Royal Family to adopt a more open door policy in a bid to stop some of the country's most valued national treasures from 'crumbling to dust'.

A Norfolk MP last night called on the Royal Family to adopt a more open door policy in a bid to stop some of the country's most valued national treasures from 'crumbling to dust'.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, stressed he was an 'enormous fan' of the monarchy, but said more could be done to make the royal palaces more accessible in the current economic climate and address a �32m maintenance black hole.

The Conservative MP also accused the government of being 'downright stingy' and underfunding the upkeep of the likes of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.

His comments came as a report reveals that the official London residence of the Queen is only open to visitors 63 days a year and that the royal palace maintenance budget has been slashed by more than a quarter over the last nine years, despite rising costs.


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Mr Bacon said Buckingham Palace needed to take inspiration from the White House, which is open throughout the year, despite the official engagements and security concerns associated with being the home and workplace of US president Barack Omaba.

A report by the Commons public accounts committee, published on Tuesday, called on the government and the royal household to do more to ensure that the buildings on the Occupied Royal Palaces Estate do not fall into a further state of disrepair.

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Mr Bacon, who is a member of the cross party group, said the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport was failing in its day to day responsibility of looking after the royal palaces.

A �15m maintenance budget, which has been static since 2000, and increased running costs has meant that the estate has built up a more than �30m backlog of repair jobs. Maintenance expenditure also fell to �11m in 2007/08, the report adds.

The Tory MP said that extending the 63 open days of Buckingham Palace - which generated �7m from 360,000 visitors last year - before and beyond July, August and September would help boost coffers.

'If the Royal Household needs more money, then it should give the public better access to the royal palaces for more of the year. It is unclear why Buckingham Palace was only open for 63 days in 2008 whilst the White House, also the official residence of a head of state, is open throughout the year.'

'I am not suggesting we turf out the Royal Family to let the tourists in, but being precious over these buildings will not save them from the ravages of time. We cannot expect the tax payer to cough up more during the credit crunch and there is a solution to make them open to the public more days a year,' he said.

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