Page updated: 06-Mar-2014
Dear TAS Members and Friends,
Here are two recent reactions to the North Yorkshire County Council budget cuts that threaten Heritage, Archaeology and Environmental service provision. Remember, the cuts were agreed in February but have not yet been implemented. This is a chance to write to the Council, Councillors and MPs | see how you can help »
I think we all sympathise with the very difficult choices faced by Councils and Local Authorities in light of drastic reductions in central government funding. And yet archaeology and heritage play such a valuable role in community well-being, inclusive activities and an attractive proposition that draws in investment, footfall and tourism too. Heritage is a positive GDP earner, but is being disproportionately targeted.
“It really struck home to me in the CBA journal I have just received, how the lack of funding from central government to local government is having an impact on ‘Heritage’ services. As a recently retired local government officer, who was also a member of my own employers ‘friends’ archaeology association, I find this situation deplorable. I know the department from my former employers has not had the finances for guided walks or for a repeat of an excellent conference for members, for the past year. I would have gladly paid for these events. However, I am in a much fortunate position than many people.”
“Thanks for sharing this Spencer. Cuts to the staff team dealing with heritage and environment work across North Yorkshire are worrying. It is difficult to see how staffing reductions can be accommodated without losing some of the protection and leadership the County’s cultural, natural and historic environment has benefited from up to now.”
@TeesArchSoc “our experience suggests that local objections carry greater weight with local authorities than national campaigners.”
Spencer Carter | TAS Chair and eCommunications
Budget cuts threaten Historic Environment Team, Archaeological and Environmental Services | Find out what you can do
The future of the North Yorkshire County Council historic environment team is at risk after new budget cuts at North Yorkshire County Council, agreed last month, which include a reduction of over £470,000 in the budget for Waste and Countryside Services. This will include a reduction of £155,000 in staff costs for waste, archaeology, biodiversity and ecology services over the next year (2014/15).
The historic environment team currently employs four members of staff, including an HER officer, and provides archaeological guidance to local planning authorities, developers, residents and land owners. They also maintain the county historic environment record.
“These cuts are part of Council measures to cut their overall budget by £94 million over 4 years (to the end of March 2015) with additional cuts of up to £73 million anticipated for the period 2015-19.”
The main roles of the archaeological service are to:
- Provide archaeological advice to local planning authorities;
- Provide pre-planning guidance to developers and residents, and archaeological advice to landowners and agents;
- Provide guidance on archaeological work across the county, including commercial and community-led excavations;
- Maintain and manage heritage information and access to it (including curating the North Yorkshire Historic Environment Record);
- Promote the historic environment of the region.
The service covers the county of North Yorkshire outside of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. North Yorkshire is the largest county in Britain and has a significant and diverse archaeological heritage.
“As seen in other parts of the country (e.g. in Worcestershire) archaeology services have the potential to generate income through commercial work, service charges and grant-funded projects. However, without sufficient staff in post to put this into practice, the service is likely to be increasingly vulnerable to cuts in future (which is a particular worry considering the anticipated budget cuts predicted by the Council over the next 4-5 years).”
What to do now
- Read this short briefing document prepared by the Council for British Archaeology (PDF format, 2 pages). [Updated 06-Mar-2014]
- If you are resident (and vote) in North Yorkshire write to your Councillor and consider writing to your MP.
Keep your letter short, to the point, empathetic to the challenges facing councils, and polite. Always identify yourself and that you are one of the people they represent. Your voice counts more if they think you vote for them.
See some more advice on How to Communicate with Your Elected Representative Effectively.
- Find details of the County Councillor for your area via the council’s website: http://democracy.northyorks.gov.uk/Committees.aspx?councillors=1
- Please share this message with other interested groups in North Yorkshire.
- The CBA will be writing to John Weighell, the Council Leader.
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Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications