Temporary security measures have been approved for Wallingford castle ruins following reports of anti-social behaviour on the grounds. 

The installation of temporary fencing with educational messaging to protect the monument was approved by councillors at the last Wallingford Town Council meeting (held Monday, February 19).

Councillors also discussed the installation of a security system as a more permanent solution at a later date. 

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This decision was made following a recommendation of the Parks, Gardens, Allotments and Open Spaces Committee.

It was also agreed that a programme of public engagement on what the monuments mean and how they can be cared for will begin later this year.

Councillors recognised such incidents as constituting heritage crime that are now being recorded on the Heritage Watch app by the council’s parks and estates team.

Wallingford district and town councillor Katharine Keats-Rohan said: “The newly repaired castle walls in Castle Gardens are already deteriorating because of the thoughtless behaviour of residents and visitors, who are allowing children to walk on the soft capping at the top of the two walls, and even adults are doing it.

“Unfortunately, the council has had to conclude it has to act now rather than wait for people to come to their senses.

"We have a duty to protect a national monument of which we are the legal guardians.

“We are working to restore our heritage around the town and to ultimately deliver an enhanced, informative, entertaining and exciting visitor experience, whilst retaining the calm and beauty of some of our sites.

“We need people to work with us to ensure that outcome, for the benefit of everyone now and into the future.”

Ms Katharine Keats-Rohan also revealed that Historic England has asked for the Wallingford Neighbourhood Plan to state: “It is Historic England's view that Wallingford stands out as a focus of nationally significant heritage assets” with reference to the late 9th century, the unification of Wessex and Mercia and the Norman conquest.

The council further approved a proposal to join the Alliance to Reduce Heritage Crime, a voluntary national network led by Historic England that develops initiatives to tackle heritage crime and galvanise local action.

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Ms Keats-Rohan added: “We have not yet started any official monitoring or reporting. We are getting informal reports from people neighbouring the site or visiting it.

“We are experiencing loosening of stones, and trampling of the turf that has been put on top of the newly repaired walls as a protective cover. It was very attractive when first laid but is being eroded by misuse.

“The recent behaviour threatens to cause damage to the infrastructure which has only recently been conserved with the support of significant third party funding."