THE public is being asked to stump up £600 to site a blue plaque marking the official centre of Worcester, because Worcestershire County Council wants extra payment for the work.

The project is part of an initiative by Worcester Civic Society, which is erecting the plaques around the city in honour of famous people or places.

Usually the installation cost has been born by the recipient, but the County Council is making the charge for placing a special bronze plaque in the pavement at The Cross, the location from which all distances to Worcester are measured.

"I was quite surprised," said Civic Society vice chairman Phil Douce.

"We pay for the plaque and, in this case it will be a rather nice bronze or cast iron one which will cost around £900, but usually the installation work is covered.

"I was even more surprised by the amount the County Council wants to charge. The job only involves moving and cutting four small slabs. I reckon it would take about an hour. We would do it ourselves, but we have been told we can't because the site is on the highway.

"June 1 this year is the 300th anniversary of the Worcester to Droitwich turnpike, the oldest turnpike road in Worcestershire.

"An event is planned starting, we believe, from the site of the Old Cross. It would be wonderful to have this plaque in place for that and wonderful publicity for Worcester.

"However, without the funding to site the plaque we will not be able to do this. The plaque has been designed and will take about three weeks to get made, but there is no point in having it made, if we can't get it installed.

"So we are looking for donations from businesses or individuals to pay for all or some of this work."

Apparently the County Council is prepared to install the plaque during planned maintenance work, but as the Civic Society wants it done earlier there will be extra cost.

Martin Rowe, the council's principle transport policy and strategy officer, explained: "We are committed to providing the best value for money for our taxpayers through our comprehensive highways and transport asset management programme.

"Where additional highway works such as the proposed installation of a plaque in Worcester City centre arise, Worcestershire County Council aims to incorporate these schemes into existing planned maintenance programmes to reduce costs.

"Unfortunately, because of the tight timescales proposed to install this plaque there is insufficient time to do this, which is why the scheme has incurred an installation cost."

Worcester Civic Society launched its blue plaque campaign in 2011 and so far it has erected plaques to artist Benjamin Williams Leader at the Diglis Hotel, Alice Ottley at the school she founded in The Tything and former Olympic gold medallist and headmaster Godfrey Brown at the neighbouring Royal Grammar School.

Installation has either been paid in full by the recipient or shared.

Later this year it will be unveiling a plaque to RE "Tip" Foster at Worcestershire County Cricket Club and one for the Rev Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy (Woodbine Willie) at St Paul's church.