RESCUE says: In January 2015 RESCUE wrote to the major political parties asking for their views on a range of issues pertaining to archaeology and the historic environment. We wrote again at the time of the publication of the party manifestos repeating our questions. To date, three days before the election, we have had only one brief reply (from the Green Party) and this fails to engage with any of our points in detail.
What can we conclude from this?
Clearly, the historic environment is not seen as a significant area of policy by any of the political parties. This, despite the fact that far more people are members of heritage-related organisations (National Trust, English Heritage, CBA, RESCUE etc) than are members of political parties, and the fact that the historic environment underpins a tourist industry that generates nearly £30 billion per year, much of it in economically deprived areas such as Cornwall and the North-East. We foresee a grim situation in the months and years following this general election. None of the parties have stated where they will be imposing further cuts but we suspect that the historic environment will be a major loser with further reductions in the budget of Historic England, weaker planning regulations and possibly the abolition of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the resulting downgrading of culture and the historic environment as areas of policy.
We need to persuade politicians to take heritage concerns more seriously.
RESCUE’s response will be to maintain and, where possible, to increase our campaigning activities. We will highlight the ongoing destruction of our historic environment through the weakening of planning regulation and the continued run-down and closure of historic environment and conservation services in local authorities. We shall continue to support the Digger’s Forum in their campaign against the appalling pay and conditions tolerated in commercial archaeology. We shall also continue to offer our practical and moral support to communities threatened with the loss of locally and nationally important heritage assets. We shall continue to expose those organisations and individuals that hope to quietly damage or destroy our heritage resources to public scrutiny.
To do this more effectively we need YOUR support. Support from members both in the form of subscriptions to RESCUE (currently only £15.00 per year, £8.00 concessions) and from committed individuals coming forward to serve on our Committee; the more support we have, the more we can do and the more effective we will be as a campaigning organisation in the hard times coming, whichever colour government we end up with in the coming weeks.
Help save the past. Help make sure it has a future.