DOZENS of people braved today's cold and wet weather to protest against plans for a new visitor centre at the base of Clifford’s Tower.

About 100 protestors turned out for the demonstration at the tower, which was attended by Independent councillor Johnny Hayes and York Central MP, Rachael Maskell.

Ms Maskell will be meeting with representatives from English Heritage on Wednesday to discuss its plans, with work on the new visitor centre expected to begin in a few weeks’ time.

She said: “I’m going to be meeting with English Heritage to talk through the plans and to talk through what alternatives could be put in place because politics is all about finding the right solutions.

“We’ve got a big car park round the back and the reality is if we can build a visitor centre a little way from the tower then everyone will be happy.”

About 3,200 people have now signed an online petition protesting at the approval of a visitor centre. It comes after City of York Council’s planning committee recently voted 11-3 in favour of the scheme. Cllr Hayes said: “I think that we have made a clear point that the 13 people who objected to the proposal when the planning process was going through was not a representative sample.

“I think the objection is not so much for the work proposed for the tower. What is being objected to is the visitor centre. We have got a very ugly car park and surely if they were to have a visitor centre that seems the appropriate place to put it.” One of the protestors at the demonstration, Scott Lupasko, added: “The announcement that it had been passed was the first I had heard of it and I don’t think that’s good enough. I think the idea is awful.” Brian Watson, who was also at the protest, commented: “I don’t think the visitor centre would be in-keeping whatsoever with the tower.”

Jeremy Ashbee, English Heritage’s head curator, said: “As part of the planning application process, we consulted widely with the public, inviting them to a number of events to hear about our plans for the tower. We also responded to their feedback by changing the design. We know that some people still have concerns and we’re meeting with Rachael Maskell MP to outline the case for the project.”