Closure of Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit

RESCUE is extremely concerned to learn of the decision by Manchester University to close the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (GMAU), as detailed in the statement below.

The Unit plays a central and critical role in providing advice to local planning authorities and is responsible for maintaining the Historic Environment Record for Greater Manchester. These roles are fundamental to any system of heritage protection and the decision by the University authorities can only be judged to be irresponsible, coming as it does at a time when heritage protection is under unprecedented pressure from local and national government cuts.

The highly qualified and experienced staff of the GMAU have also played a key role in developing and supporting the innovative and highly effective ‘Dig Manchester’ project (http://www.digmanchester.org.uk/) which has enabled hundreds of people to participate in archaeological research and which has had benefits both for archaeology and for local communities. RESCUE deplores the lack of civic responsibility shown by the University authorities and their casual disregard for the heritage of the city upon which they depend and from which their institution takes its name.

Taken together with the current uncertainty over the future of the Merseyside Archaeological Advisory Service, this decision means that a large area of north-western England is in imminent danger of being left without effective protection for its archaeological and built heritage. This is not an acceptable state of affairs even given the current difficult economic situation.

Manchester University has decided to close the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (GMAU) as it no longer fits with the University’s research and teaching priorities. The GMAU has provided a high quality archaeological service to the 10 Greater Manchester Planning Authorities for over 30 years. The local planning authorities are looking to secure provision of a planning archaeological service from an alternative provider as a long term solution. Clearly any provision will have to be value for money, ensuring that the Council’s receive the statutory advice which they need in determining planning applications. GMAU will finish providing archaeological advice for all but urgent planning matters from the 16th March so that it has time to wind up its affairs.
For further information please contact Chris Findley, Planning Lead, AGMA;
Email: chris.findley@salford.gov.uk
Tel: 0161 7933617
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