LETTER: Before a sale, some questions

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Kathleen Dalyell and Mr Tam Dalyell

Sir: One of the glories for visitors to London from other parts of Britain is Greenwich, so we are entitled to ask:

1. What does the Government believe is the role of the state in heritage matters if it is not to preserve and maintain great national institutions such as Greenwich, its naval hospital and park?

2. What guarantee can be offered if the proposed sale goes ahead that Greenwich will not fall into the "wrong hands"? In practice, there will be little to prevent the wrong hands doing their profitable will and saying that they are obliged to turn Greenwich into a theme park, thereby fragmenting the integrity of the complex.

3. How could the University of Greenwich, or any other educational institution, given the pressures of finance on all universities, make sure that the Greenwich complex was kept intact and in good order? The simple answer is that they could not do so. It is the proper task of English Heritage/Government. Besides, any serious educational project would be better conducted by private, well-considered negotiations than by public auction.

4. Since we live in a 17th-century house, we know that 17th-century buildings now require complex, skilled and necessarily expensive maintenance. If Greenwich goes under the auctioneer's hammer, what obligations will the successful bidder have to carry out the necessary capital repairs and ongoing maintenance? If the purpose in selling is economic, the presentation of this unique architectural and historical site will be jeopardised.

5. What will become of the National Archive presently housed at Greenwich?

6. What private developer is going to stump up the necessary cash to provide for the required transport facilities outlined by Jonathan Glancey?

7. Does HMG have a view on Jonathan Glancey's suggestion that the building is given over to a new national foundation?

Until these questions are publicly addressed by those in authority, we believe that the disposal of Greenwich should not be contemplated.

Yours sincerely,

Kathleen Dalyell

Tam Dalyell



17 September