The Vaizey Inquiry into the future of local government archaeology services, which took oral evidence last week see here, has been timely. Local authority services continue to be under intense financial pressure and, in many cases, are seen as a soft option when cuts have to be made. Some services are threatened with closure, but others face the more insidious ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
IfA has written to all local authorities highlighting the crucial role played by their archaeology and heritage services in managing and protecting the historic environment. In addition, whenever we are aware of impending cuts we write to the authority concerned reminding it of its duties and responsibilities not only to the historic environment but also to its residents. Copies of these letters can be found on our advocacy page here. However, in some instances the Institute only becomes aware of such cuts when decisions have already been taken and budgets are announced. At that stage the scope for influencing events is limited.
Members can help in this regard by informing the IfA office when budget or other proposals affecting archaeology and heritage services are published in their areas. We would also encourage members to write personally to their own local authorities registering their concerns about proposals likely to undermine or close relevant services. The more voices raised in support of the historic environment the better.