The long-awaited 2014 report on ‘The Future of Local Government ((LG) Archaeology Services Report’, to which IHBC contributed, has been published by the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG), and includes recommendations to ‘develop a voluntary developer contribution which would establish a ring-fenced national fund which will help financially secure local authority HER services’.
The authors write:
1.1. This report examines the current situation facing local authority archaeology and wider historic environment services in England, particularly with reference to the role they play in fulfilling the requirements of the planning system. The report was commissioned by the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, and has been undertaken by John Howell MP and by Lord Redesdale with the support of The Archaeology Forum…
1.6. The report sets out recommendations with the following aims:
- To highlight the importance of local government archaeology services and to remind failing services of their obligations under the planning system;
- To better support local authorities in rationalising current service models in pursuit of optimum availability and sustainability of skills and expertise and the achievement of economic efficiency;
- To outline a mutually beneficial financial arrangement with the purpose of improving the effectiveness and reliability of archaeological services for developers and ease the financial vulnerability of services for local authorities;
- To improve and strengthen sector standards and monitoring and provide reasoning in support of minimum service levels to be instituted and maintained;
- To rationalise local authority advice charges, taking account of varying circumstances;
- To ensure English Heritage/Historic England provide effective regional leadership to local authorities
- To rationalise the system for retention of archaeological material…
The report recommends that:
- An advisory group should be convened at the earliest opportunity to develop a voluntary developer contribution which would establish a ring-fenced national fund which will help financially secure local authority HER services.
- A system of approved standards, produced and monitored by the sector, should be applied to local authorities in receipt of this funding with the aim of ensuring the development process runs effectively.
- Research should be conducted into current local authority charging structures with the aim of ensuring a level of readability, consistency, and value for money.
- English Heritage is strongly advised to consider the creation of a role at Executive Board level within Historic England to provide regional leadership over local planning historic environment functions.
- English Heritage should also be authorised to prioritise the facilitation of service sharing agreements between local authorities.
- Programmes for training and skill retention such as apprenticeships and bursaries should be devised by local government in partnership with the sector to address current unsustainable employment and training models.
- Training in archaeology and conservation should be devised for planners and local councillors, run by a coordination of heritage sector bodies to address deficits in cross-sectoral understanding.
- English Heritage should engage further with the Arts Council England and the Museum Sector to pursue long-term strategies for the assessment of archaeological archives.
For background see the IHBC NewsBlog