A TOP archaeologist has called for York’s “eyesore” Castle car park to be closed down because of its impact on the adjacent Clifford’s Tower.

John Oxley, city archaeologist at City of York Council, said he felt people protesting against English Heritage’s controversial plans for a new visitor centre at the bottom of the tower motte - recently approved by planners- were “missing the elephant in the room”.

He said: “I cannot understand why there are no active and continuing protests against the operation of the car park.”

He claimed it was the “greatest desecration, the greatest eyesore and the single greatest impediment to understanding and enjoying” the motte and tower.

Writing on Facebook, he told Independent councillor Johnny Hayes and Green councillor Dave Taylor that the car park was owned by the authority and, as councillors, they were in a perfect position to “campaign, lobby and put forward resolutions in full council to demand the immediate closure of this eyesore”.

He said: “I think we (the council) need to put our house in order before we start condemning the welcome investment that English Heritage will put into this national icon.”

He suggested parking could be relocated from the Castle car park to the “woefully underused” St George’s Field car park alongside the River Ouse.

Mr Oxley was unavailable to speak to The Press but it is understood his comments were made in a purely personal capacity.

His views won support from Cllr Ian Gillies, Tory executive member for transport, who said: “I fully agree with John in his reasoning regarding the building and the car park.”

He said that, having only formed the present executive last year, it was a priority to work with landowners and developers of properties fronting the area, and “establish a blueprint to include Piccadilly, and the Castle car park, in order that we can create something of which the city can be proud”.

Cllr Taylor said he thought Mr Oxley was “absolutely right” in his views, saying he had been arguing for years that the council should find the money to put parking underground and turn the site into a public park.

“It’s such an important site and the car park is untidy,” added Cllr Taylor, who is Lord Mayor of York.