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Visitor numbers fall at heritage sites

PUBLISHED: 09:28 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:52 07 July 2010

A NEW generation is missing out on Britain's cultural heritage after budget cuts resulted in a reduction in the number of free educational visits to historic sites, it has been claimed.

A NEW generation is missing out on Britain's cultural heritage after budget cuts resulted in a reduction in the number of free educational visits to historic sites, it has been claimed.

Concerns have been raised by a group of MPs after it emerged that the number of children visiting English Heritage locations on organised trips had fallen by 20pc in the last five years.

A Norfolk MP who sits on the Commons public accounts committee has also criticised the government for setting “inane” targets to increase participation within the historic environment.

A report published this week revealed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport failed to meet targets to get more disabled and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds visiting heritage sites.

However, the public accounts committee found that nobody in the government department knew how to meet the targets or establish if the objectives could be met.

Richard Bacon, South Norfolk MP, said the report highlighted the failure of a “target-driven culture”.

English Heritage, which has faced a decline in public funding coupled with increased responsibilities, has pledged to reverse the downward trend of free educational visits to sites such as Grimes Graves, near Thetford, and Castle Acre Priory, near Swaffham.

The body aims to offer 428,000 free educational visits a year across the country by 2011 after a revision of its “over-ambitious” 650,000 target for 2010, says the Commons report.

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