A PUBLIC meeting called to discuss the state of a market town's crumbling castle walls is to go ahead tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 19).
And campaigners demanding urgent action to make safe a section of Barnard Castle's walls which collapsed in 2009 hope the meeting may hear news of a breakthrough in efforts to solve the problem.
After a four-year row over who is responsible for the repairs, officials from the three organisations involved – landowner Raby Estates, English Heritage and Durham County Council – met for talks yesterday (Monday).
Representatives of all three have been invited to the meeting to brief residents on any plans to tackle the problem.
The public meeting was due to be held earlier this month, but was postponed at Durham County Council's request after officials said recent public pressure had resulted in a “renewed desire” to address the walls situation.
Campaigner Thom Robinson, a Barnard Castle town councillor, said the meeting would now go ahead as planned tomorrow.
“They have all sat round a table for the first time in four years,” said Coun Robinson.
“Given that the walls have been collapsing, we feel we are entitled to expect these representatives to come to the meeting.
“This will enable them to explain the reasons for the delay and lay down their plans for a resolution.”
Coun Robinson added: “As this meeting has already been delayed once, at the request of Durham County Council, we truly hope they will have something positive to report.”
Fellow campaigner Gary Marshall, who has recorded a number of new rock falls in recent months, has collected more than 1,400 signatures on a petition demanding action to repair the walls.
Coun Robinson added: “This shows the strength of feeling in the town.
“The castle is as important to the town's future today as it was when it was first built,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Durham County Council confirmed talks were being held between the authority, Raby Estates and English Heritage.
Tomorrow's public meeting will be held at Teesdale Leisure Centre, in Strathmore Road, Barnard Castle, starting at 7pm.