The End of Archaeology in Sandwell?
In my recent Chair's Report at our AGM at Northwick Manor in July 2011 I discussed the hostile approach to the country's heritage that had been exhibited in Cambridgeshire with regard to the archaeology of the Fens.
Sadly I now have to report that this incredibly short sighted attitude has been shown much closer to home by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council who have set wheels in motion to delete both the Borough Archaeologist post and that of the HER Officer.
To date a number of individuals, as well as the Institute for Archaeologists and National CBA, have written to the Council questioning this dangerous decision. Your committee will obviously be adding comment and inviting reply from Elected Members.
Mike Heyworth. CBA Director, sums up our concerns in the passage below.
We, the Committee, will seek, on your behalf, to clarify how Sandwell MBC intend to formulate policy and determine applications in accordance with PPS5 (Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment), the draft NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) as well as the Black Country Joint Core Strategy.
We question the authority's ability to provide frontline services related to planning and sustainable development if it does not receive expert impartial advice from appropriate professional staff and does not maintain or have access to a Historic Environment Record.
We will also be asking how the Council will continue to support sustainable development if it cannot call upon neutral expert staff that specialise in the protection of the Historic Environment as defined by government.
We feel that assurances need to be made as to how Sandwell MBC are going to manage their obligation to the rich heritage of their area and what protocols they intend to implement so that front line services are not put in jeopardy.
We encourage our members to add their individual voices to maintain standards across our region and to safeguard our heritage for future generations.
Please contact Sandwell MBC directly addressing your concerns to:
Mr Jan Britton
Chief Executive Sandwell Borough Council
Mr Nick Bubalo
Area Director of Regeneration and Economy
Sandwell Council House
Kirsty Nichol (CBA WM Chair)
"As we commented in a CBA news release, Sandwell will no longer be fulfilling its public duties as a planning authority, or in terms of compliance with European Directives, and could rightly be challenged on this by local people.
Failing to provide these services creates more uncertainty for development, with the risk of unexpected discoveries and expensive delays, at a time when sustainable growth is so important.
In these difficult times, we believe it is misguided for local authorities to turn their backs on the opportunity of levering significant investment into enhancing their rich local heritage with all its potential for community benefit and the growth of tourism business."
Mike Heyworth, CBA Director
The full text of Mike's letter to Mr Britton can be downloaded as a 75 KB PDF file.