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POLL: Cashing in with Castle Cornet

POLL: Cashing in with Castle Cornet

Saturday 03 February 2024

POLL: Cashing in with Castle Cornet

Saturday 03 February 2024

Some deputies had their eyes opened last month when they realised how little money is generated by Guernsey's heritage sites with some saying that ESC needs to find ways of making more money out of Castle Cornet in particular.

Express has since learned how much it's expected to cost the States to operate Guernsey's heritage sites, with staff costs topping one million.

The States approved an up-to-£7million spend on a like-for-like replacement of the existing Bridge to the castle, which has slowly been deteriorating over several years with the risk of collapse feared.

Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the States Trading Supervisory Board which has responsibility for Guernsey Ports and therefore the castle bridge, said it would be “inconceivable to not maintain access to our premier asset”. 

The project had been delayed by covid and the works had since become “rather more urgent, but what surprised some deputies during the debate was the revenue raised by Castle Cornet, especially as it was described as "our premier asset".


Pictured: The Castle Cornet bridge is in urgent need of repairs.

The Policy Letter for the castle bridge repairs suggested that Castle Cornet alone brings in less than a quarter of a million pounds a year. Other heritage sites bring in less money as they don't have the same high footfall and they don't charge entry fees or have on site shops and cafes.

Deputy Marc Leadbeater was astounded when he learned what Castle Cornet's revenue looks like.

"My eyes were drawn to the same figures, £225,000 for the revenue for Castle Cornet, because I was astounded it was that low? I know that this is not the main focus of what we're discussing today," he said during last month's debate, "but it's included with the body of policy lecture. I think it's worth discussion.

"Castle Cornet wouldn't have been subject to GST as its turn over is so low. So that's clearly is an issue because we're told that it's our most popular visitor attraction for which admission is charged, so clearly this policy letter has highlighted a piece of work for ESC to to have a look to see how they can maximise the potential out of our own little Mont St Michel if you want to call it that."

Deputies John Gollop and Sasha Kazantseva Miller were also shocked by the low revenue with Deputy Gollop suggesting more should be done to bring in more visitors and therefore more money.

"Let's bring Odd Socks back if they wish, because with other large events we used to have, we could make more money from a business point of view by using Castle Cornet more," he said, "maybe even having an element of a hotel type atmosphere, more events for people across the community, including maybe high net worth events, we could really use it."

Deputy Kazantseva Miller said while the historic heritage sites are valuable to the community, they don't pay for themselves which needs to be addressed.

"If you actually did all the cost to running the service you wouldn't cover it," she said, "so this is loss making already never mind having enough money to be able to contribute to the investment in the capital and the maintenance that is required. 

"...we know it's a huge asset, but are we making the best use of it?" she added.


Guernsey has three main heritage sites - Castle Cornet, Fort Grey and the German Naval Signals HQ - it also has Guernsey Museum at Candie Gardens, and the Guernsey Information Centre and Beau Sejour both fall under the remit of Education, Sport and Culture too. 

2023 figures for Guernsey Museum aren't available yet as the Renoir Exhibition has generated a lot more data than in a normal year.

However, data for the other sites was released to Express by ESC.

The museum's service budget for 2024 is £625,700 while the predicted expenditure is £1,378,700.

That includes a forecast spend on staff wages of £1,066,800 and non pay expenditure of £311,900.


Pictured: Data provided by ESC.

There are a number of public events which happen at Castle Cornet which is the best placed of all local heritage sites to lend itself to different styles of entertainment.

As well as weddings, it has been used for concerts, play performances, activity weekends and much more over the years.

With an eye now cast over its books, there is expected to be a higher focus on making sure more money is made from the castle itself.

Some suggestions have included increasing entry fees or charging more for events. 

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