Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a Cabinet reshuffle. Of significance to archaeology is the appointment of Nadine Dorries MP as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), replacing Oliver Dowden MP, and the appointment of Michael Gove MP as Secretary of State for Communities, Housing, and Local Government (MHCLG), replacing Robert Jenrick MP. CIfA and the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) have written jointly to welcome the new Ministers to post, and set out the issues on which we expect to work with them in the coming months.
The appointment of Mr Gove was shortly followed by an announcement that the department would be re-branded as the Department for Levelling-up, Housing, and Communities. As the name change suggests, the Department will have key responsibility for fleshing out and delviering the Government's 'levelling-up' commitments, due to be articulated in a white paper in the coming months.
Additionally, as reported in various newspapers last weekend, Mr Gove will also pause progress on the Planning Bill to provide an opportunity to 'reflect' on proposals made in last year's white paper, many of which have remained contentious with Conservative backbenchers. There will be a period of uncertainty as to the future of the proposals, and CIfA is keen to build on the productive conversations that it had with MHCLG officials over the past year. CIfA's policy position on recent planning reforms can be explored in more detail here.
At DCMS, Nadine Dorries arrives as a Minister whose past public comments on culture indicate that she will be a strong supporter of Government's 'retain and explain' policy for historic statues. It was concerning to note that in her first day in post Ms Dorries overturned a decision to list the Dorman Long tower in Teesside. CIfA and CBA will be looking to work with others in the sector to help the new Secretary of State develop a compassionate and constructive view of heritage in the coming months.
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