Somerset tourist attraction to close for ‘foreseeable future’
PUBLISHED: 17:21 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:58 22 September 2020
Cheddar Gorge and Caves
Up to 40 people may lose their jobs at a Somerset tourist attraction which will close ‘for the foreseeable future’.
Longleat Enterprises said Cheddar Gorge and Caves and its attractions will not reopen this year and there is ‘great uncertainty’ over its future and reopening in 2021.
The parent company of Cheddar Caves said the effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘profound’ and confirmed 40 of its staff will now be entering into a formal redundancy consultation process.
A spokesman from Longleat Enterprises said: “Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cheddar Caves and its attractions will be closed for the foreseeable future. The effect of the pandemic on our operations has been profound.
“Sadly, we do not envisage the attraction being viable for the remainder of 2020 and there is great uncertainty as to the trajectory of the virus in 2021 and the associated guidance and rules.
“With great regret amid the ongoing uncertainty and long timescales involved, we have to consider making redundancies, which will affect the vast majority of our staff working at Cheddar.
“The number of staff who may be affected by the proposed redundancy is 40 and we will now be entering into a formal redundancy consultation process.”
A Cheddar Parish Council spokesman said Cheddar’s world-famous caves are a ‘very important visitor attraction’ and the closure is particularly hard on those who have worked for the business for ‘many years’.
Its spokesman said: “The council is dismayed to hear that Longleat Estates will be closing Cheddar Caves at least until 2021 and making many of their staff redundant.
“It is particularly hard on those involved, some of whom have worked for the business for many years, and will inevitably cause hardship. The parish council understands the pressures on the company from lost revenue during the pandemic, with no end seemingly in sight.
“Cheddar’s world-famous caves are a very important visitor attraction, bringing many people to the gorge and we fervently hope that before too long Longleat will be able to re-open all their facilities and welcome visitors once again.”
The parish council has expressed that even though the caves are closing, the rest of Cheddar Gorge and the village is ‘very much open with plenty to offer’.
The spokesman added: “Britain’s greatest limestone gorge is itself in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which offers great walks, cycling and magnificent views.
“The gift shops, cafés, bars and restaurants in the gorge are open. Visitors can buy many local products, including cider and cheese; indeed they can watch Cheddar cheese being made in the gorge. So, there are still many reasons to visit Cheddar.”
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