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Palace 'should open more' to fund repairs

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Heritage Great Britain
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Buckingham Palace's opening season should be extended in order to raise money for the repair of other dilapidated, royal palaces and monuments, according to a new report by a committee of MPs.

The Committee of Public Accounts has criticised both the DCMS and the Royal Household after it was revealed that there is currently a £32m backlog of maintenance at sites, with critical repairs being deferred despite a warning from the committee in 2001. According to the report, the condition of the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum at Frogmore House near Windsor Castle, Berkshire, has deteriorated to such an extent that English Heritage has placed it on the Buildings at Risk register.

Despite the number of official engagements and running costs involved, the committee argues that Buckingham Palace should open for more than 63 days each year given that other buildings, including the Houses of Parliament, remain open for most of the year despite similar obligations. In 2007-08, the palace generated more than £7m despite its limited opening season, and it is believed that by opening the property for longer could help to top up the available funds for repair schemes.

An annual grant from the DCMS to the Royal Household for the upkeep and running of Royal palaces has been capped at £15m since 2000-01, which represents a 19 per cent reduction in real terms, while spending on repairs has decreased by 27 per cent. Edward Leigh, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: "No rigorous analysis has been carried out and, in truth, neither the Household nor the Department for Culture, Media and Sport really knows how big the problem is or what to do about it.

"Each year hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Palaces that are open to the public. You would think that income generated from entrance fees could be used to top up the resources available to maintain these buildings."

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Buckingham Palace's opening season should be extended in order to raise money for the repair of other dilapidated, royal palaces and monuments, according to a new report by a committee of MPs.
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