REPAIRS to the historic keep at Clitheroe Castle should be complete within the next fortnight, it has been confirmed.

Work on the 800-year-old castle keep, which is a popular tourist attraction, and upgrades to nearby Castle Street were raised by opposition councillors at a Ribble Valley full council meeting.

Labour's Cllr Lee Jameson, the new opposition leader, also representing the Greens and Progressive Liberals, said: “Can the council leader confirm, and guarantee, the dates that remedial on the castle keep and proposed improvements to Castle Street, which we have already paid for, will be completed?”

Borough Tory leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson said: “Lancashire County Council recently undertook the necessary surveys on Castle Street to inform the designs.

"The county council has confirmed it is now in a position to progress the scheme lay-out. This will be shared with Ribble Valley Council officers shortly.

“While works were due to start in the spring, the county council has been made aware of the food festival date and has confirmed that no work will take place over this period.

"They have not yet guaranteed a timeline for the works. This is because matters currently unknown may arise during the work and there may be objections to traffic regulation orders.

“The intention however is to engage with key stakeholders and the public, when the final design has been agreed and a proposed time-frame can be shared. Ribble Valley Council officers will be meeting with the county council later this month.

“The castle keep will be open to the public again in the next two weeks. both the ramparts and the inside of the keep.

"To reopen the keep, a full photogrammetry (3-D) survey will be needed and some work to prop areas of the keep which are thought have a small chance of coming loose.

“Further work has to be done to establish longer-term work on the keep. This will include pointing [mortar] work but may also require some structural work.

"Due to the mortar which is needed, work may not start until the warmer months. Final design solutions should be available in the next two months, allowing mobilisation in the early summer.”

Cllr Atkinson added: “There is a possibility current funding may be insufficient and a bid for Heritage Lottery funding may be needed, resulting in longer time-scales. Councillors will be updated as soon as the final design work comes back. ”

Separately in the new budget, the borough council has earmarked £500,000 for improvements to Clitheroe Castle grounds.