Heritage job cut plans attacked

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The Independent Online
PUBLIC confidence in English Heritage has been damaged by its plans to shed responsibility for historic monuments and cut specialist staff, the Council for British Archaeology said yesterday.

After the first meeting between the council, which comprises more than 350 local archaeological bodies, and Jocelyn Stevens, chairman of English Heritage, Dr Peter Addyman, president of the council, said members were 'extremely worried' that proposals to shed more than 100 craftsmen who maintain historic sites would weaken the government agency's 'critical mass in expertise'.

Richard Morris, director, said public respect had been diminished by the agency's ambiguous explanation of its 'Priorities for the 1990s' strategy, under which management of more than 100 'lesser regional' monuments would be transferred to local authorities, trusts and voluntary groups. It was unclear whether it was designed to save money or to provide better care of sites.

On Monday, delegates at the council's annual winter meeting unanimously approved a memorandum which calls on English Heritage to abandon attempts to 'grade' monuments in order of importance, enabling the agency to retain control of 'the crown jewels'.

Transferring management responsibility to hard-pressed local authorities could 'impoverish . . . what is most typical and characteristic of England's heritage', it says.