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A BUILDER has hatched a plan to save crumbling Colchester Castle from ruin...for free.

Part of the 1,000-year-old castle has been fenced off for safety reasons until bosses fix crumbling masonry.

Mick Bates, who runs Bates Roofing and Construction, said he was moved to read about the plight of the crumbling castle and has come up with a no-cost action plan.

The idea is to recruit and train volunteers and get builders’ suppliers to donate materials.

He said: “I have lived in the town for 36 years and when I heard Colchester Castle was falling down and they couldn’t find the money, I thought we should come up with a way to do it.

“We have got volunteers who are keen and a scaffolding company who wants to help out.

“What I would do is interview people to see if they have the right attitude and the passion.

“We reckon it would take three months depending on how many people we can get.”

“It would all be health and safety compliant. We would give the volunteers health and safety training.

“We all know what to do and at the end of the day it is a building and it is a big job.

“When you have free labour, free materials and free scaffolding, it is just a case of organising it.”

It is not yet known how much the work will cost and how long it will take.

Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service is working with English Heritage to find a solution.

Mr Bates, 66, of Headgate, Colchester, said he had always been interested in ancient walls and buildings and had studied the repairs of many Roman walls throughout England, He said he would need the support of Colchester Council, Nick Barlow, the ward councillor, and heritage groups for his vision to succeed.

Mr Bates said walls had decayed was as a result of the severe winter.

Philip Crummy, director of Colchester Archaeological Trust, said: “It would be brilliant if it could be done, absolutely. But there are formidable problems to overcome with bureaucracy and health and safety.”