Residents of Cambridgeshire will no longer be able to walk through the college grounds or visit the King’s College Chapel or for free as the College is set to introduce a new scheme that requires a £9 photo-ID to be presented for admission.
The scheme, which is planned to be introduced in Easter term, will not affect the admission rights of University staff and students. While residents can still attend chapel services for free, the new photo-ID (which will be valid for 3 years) is intended to prevent misuse of the current admissions system which lacks a photo-ID and may allow fraudulent tour operators to admit tourists for free.
Admission to King’s currently costs £7.50 for adults and £5 concessions, whilst residents “who live within a 12-mile radius can apply for a free visitor’s pass”, according to the College website. The proposed change would see the College make a significant income from the sale of passes, particularly as many residents walk through the college in order to get to work, parking around the West Road area, one of the few places which offers free parking. The restriction of access to the college ground will undoubtedly heighten tensions between “town and gown”, something which could be particularly damaging at a time when JCRs and Committees across Cambridge are seeking sponsorship for May Balls and summer events.
Reverend Jeremy Morris, Dean of the Chapel, told The Cambridge Student: “The proposed charge is simply aimed at covering the cost of the administration and issuing of the card itself. Once issued… the holder can visit the College (including the Chapel) as many times as they wish during the three years covered by the card.” Responding to a question about alternate methods of identification, he said “We have not yet ruled out allowing the use of a photo-ID driving licence as suitable photo ID, but this would be at best an interim measure as the College is considering introducing bar-coded access on its gates – just as various other colleges have done – and a driving licence would not of course have the appropriate bar code.”
The chapel, famously described as an ‘upturned sow’ by D.H. Lawrence, is one of the most famous landmarks in Cambridge and a hotspot for tourists. If people are prevented from walking through the grounds, the knock on effect for local businesses could be severe as King’s Parade would attract less foot traffic.
A local resident pointed out that the current admission system is “fairly robust” and requires residents to sign the guestbook and give details of their postcode, residence, etc. The time-bound nature of the ID also caused some concern as residents would have to keep renewing admission rights. As one local pointed out “The chapel is essentially a Church of England building and a place of worship. It seems unfair to restrict admission to the community in this way.”
Atiyab Sultan – News Reporter