MORE needs to be done to preserve Weymouth’s Sandsfoot Castle and other historic sites like it, a borough councillor has warned.

Borough environment spokesman Doug Hollings said the 16th Century structure – blighted by coastal erosion and crumbling stonework – is close to collapse.

He said that gaining funding for repairs had proved ‘impossible’ and echoed fears over cuts to the nation’s heritage budget.

Sandsfoot Castle, in Wyke Regis, was built in the late 1530s by Henry VIII to protect the Portland Anchorage from attack.

The structure, erected on soft clays, suffers from coastal erosion and has been considered unstable for years.

Coun Hollings, a member of the Wyke Regis Protection Society, said: “There are two main issues with Sandsfoot Castle.

“One is the erosion of the cliffs, which has been going on since it was built. The castle was abandoned after 100 years because of it.

“Another issue is the stonework, which is deteriorating. We’ve done some studies and we know there’s a danger of the structure collapsing altogether.”

Coun Hollings said he and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council – along with the Friends of the Rodwell Trail – had taken a ‘keen interest’ in Sandsfoot Castle. He said: “I’ve been pressing its cause because we need to do something about it.

“We need the support of English Heritage for that. But with the funding situation right now, it’s proved impossible to get any financial help.

“We’re working together to see if we can apply for any grants to take this forward.”

It has emerged that only 57 threatened sites nationwide were renovated during the past year, while 69 were added to the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register.

Sandsfoot Castle, along with Rufus Castle and the Church of St Peter on Portland, are all on the list.

It is the first time since the register was drawn up nine years ago that the drive has gone into reverse. Meanwhile English Heritage has cut its ‘at risk’ grants from £8 million to £4.1 million since 1999.

The Conservative Party has accused the Government of neglecting historic sites by slashing the heritage budget.

And Coun Hollings added: “For me, and for many local people, our history and our culture is so important and it’s something I think we have a responsibility to preserve.

“These buildings are all part of that.

“It’s sad that the number of these ‘at risk’ sites has expanded. It’s a clear illustration that we’re not putting enough money into protecting our historic buildings.”