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North Yorkshire Archaeology Service at Risk

posted 9 Mar 2014, 06:49 by Paul Brayford   [ updated 12 Jan 2016, 09:17 ]

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 4 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. North Yorkshire is the largest county in Britain and has a significant and diverse archaeological heritage.

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.

 National CBA has recently published this briefing document on local government authority archaeology services (DOCX format, 4 pages), which you may find helpful

 Although the budget has been agreed, the detail of how the cuts will be implemented, or the impact it will have on the historic environment team, is not yet clear. It is therefore vital that councillors are reminded of their responsibilities to heritage under the NPPF and are asked to clarify exactly what impact the new budget will have on the service, and how the County Council’s responsibilities to heritage and archaeology will be met in the future.

 What you can do

 Read this short briefing document prepared by the national Council for British Archaeology (PDF format, 2 pages).

·         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. 

Find details of the County Councillor for your area via the council’s website: http://democracy.northyorks.gov.uk/Committees.aspx?councillors=1

Doug Rocks-Macqueen has written a useful blog post on How to Communicate with Your Elected Representative Effectively.

 Please share this message with other interested individuals and groups in North Yorkshire.

What we are doing

Both national CBA and CBA Yorkshire are writing to the Leader of the council (Councillor John Weighell - http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/article/25142/Bedale-division) to express our concerns and to ask for clarification on detail of how the cuts will be implemented, their impact on the historic environment team and how the council’s responsibilities will be met in the future.

We are also contributing our views to the more long term review of local government archaeological services commissioned by the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, and being undertaken by Lord Redesdale and John Howell MP.

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