Local Authority conservation capacity in England: A small annual increase in conservation capacity follows years of conservation cuts. But still aggregates at 35% cuts over the last 12 years.
Research released this week shows that in the last 12 months the number of conservation specialists in English local authorities has increased by 3%. This positive change follows 12 successive years of conservation capacity cuts. Over twelve years the loss of conservation knowledge and specialist advice has equated to the reduction of more than one in three conservation officer posts in local government, threatening the proper care of our heritage.
The Tenth Annual Report on Local Authority Staff Resources, is based on survey work carried out in partnership between the IHBC, Historic England, and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO). It covers annual surveys of the levels of expert advice available for building conservation and archaeology within local authorities, which have been collected consistently since 2006.
IHBC Chair James Caird said: ‘We hope the increase is a sign of some greater priority being put on conservation services by local authorities. But despite this increase many local authorities do not have the capacity to cope with even their statutory conservation duties. There are 15 second tier authorities: Districts; Boroughs or Cities without any advice of any kind available to them.
The actual rise of 15.7 Full Time Equivalents distributed over all local authorities would only mean an increase for each authority of one and a half hours a week. Not much more can be achieved in 90 minutes.
One in seven local authorities still have no conservation officer or, at best, receive no more than the equivalent of one day a week part time advice.’
From 2006 to 2017 the number of conservation specialists fell by 37%.
From 2006 to 2018:
- the number of conservation specialists has fallen by 35% (283.4FTE); and
- the number of archaeological specialists advising local authorities in England has fallen by 35% (142.5 FTE).
In the past 12 months:
- the number of conservation specialists has increased by 3% (15.7FTE); and
- the number of archaeological specialists advising local authorities in England has increased by 1% (1.9 FTE).
For background see the IHBC NewsBlog