LONDON'S blue plaques that commemorate the past homes of famous people are set for history's dustbin due to government austerity cuts.
English Heritage, the department in charge of blue plaques, faces a cut in its budget from £130 million in 2010/11 to £92 million by 2014 and reckons it would save £120,000 a year by ending the scheme.
"These are extremely difficult times for English Heritage and for the scheme, which has a very uncertain future,” admitted Dr Emily Cole, head of blue plaques, in a letter seen by the Mail on Sunday.
Each plaque costs £965 to install, including research, and there are now 869 of the historical markers across London, the first city to adopt the look-who-lived-here idea way back in 1867 when Lord Byron's birthplace was awarded the accolade.
English Heritage plans to suspend new plaque installation for two years - nine are put up each year -and then revive the scheme in 2015, when it hopes to have new funding in place, possibly in the form of sponsorship.
"English Heritage remains committed to the blue plaques scheme that has done so much to inspire Londoners and visitors with the history of the capital and its inhabitants," read a statement.
The number of blue plaques going up had already been cut by 25% last year in an earlier cost-slashing effort, a year which saw English Heritage's two top executives share bonuses of £40,000, or about four years worth of blue plaque installation.