Council cuts funding to Culzean Castle

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Culzean Castle will no longer get a yearly cash injection from the council plunging its country park status into jeopardy.

The National Trust for Scotland beauty spot has received £148,000 annually from South Ayrshire Council in recent years but in a blow to the trust, the council’s leadership panel has agreed to withdraw financial support.

The Royal Burgh of Ayr and the Burgh of Kilmarnock established Culzean Country Park in 1969. The current council and NTS signed an agreement more than 20 years ago setting out the funding terms.

A paper presented to the Leadership Panel said: “In terms of accountability, the broad range of activities within the agreement are no longer fit for purpose.” It also warned that “any adjustments to the council’s financial contribution may lead to a change in country park status”.

The next steps involve talks between the council and NTS to renegotiate the minute of agreement between them. If they can’t reach agreement then the country park status could be ditched.

A council spokesman said: “The ending of the current agreement means discussions will now take place to progress a new relationship with NTS. A short term working group comprising members on Culzean Joint Committee, ward members and the portfolio holder for economy and culture and supported by officers will be established to implement this.”

Before the funding withdrawal officials were asked to consider whether the cash ploughed into the country park offered value for money.  

An NTS spokeswoman said the organisation couldn’t comment until it finds out more.

Since 2015 the NTS has spent £3 million at Culzean on two new play parks, signage, trails, restoration of the walled garden kitchen garden and other improvements.