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South Yorkshire Archaeology Service cuts
#1
The South Yorkshire Archaeology Service are facing a 50% budget cut.

This will cripple them and all the work they do.

There is a public committee meeting about it on Thursday 21st July at 11.30am in the town hall at Sheffield.

We need as many people to show up as possible and to email the councillor presiding:

steven.wilson@sheffield.gov.uk​ before Thursday!
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#2
Have been given more details

Sheffield City Council are having a meeting on Thursday morning, at 11.30 in the town hall to try and push through a 50% cut in South Yorkshire Archaeology Service.

This includes the local SMR. This comes after a 25% cut this year which leaves a rump service with only 3 members of staff left. The service is funded by 3 other councils too - Barnsley, Rotherham, and Doncaster, and nominally Sheffield cannot push through this size of cut without them. The agreed cut was 15%, which was bad enough, but Sheffield are trying to bulldoze through and persuade the others to accept this much greater cut. Clearly it will leave the county without an effective advisory body for commercial work, with everything that this implies (rubber stamping of development without proper archaeological scrutiny I imagine), and a probable effective end to access to the SMR.

This comes on top of policies that have effectively transformed the city museum, which has a very large and regionally important archive and nationally important elements too, into a glorified visitor centre with a posh cafe. It has had no archaeological curator for two years. Consequently, it now refuses to archive new material, or make the archive available for research. This is causing chaos for commercial archaeologists and community projects alike, and is an effective ban on academic research in the city and locale.

The infrastructure which supports all aspects of archaeological activity in this region is already in a state of partial and significant collapse. These new cuts, I fear, will in the medium term see an effective end to almost all archaeological fieldwork and research.


steven.wilson@sheffield.gov.uk​ is the email to express your feeling that these services cannot be cut further and that there will be no return from any further cuts.

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#3
Sorry people are losing their jobs, sorry that they thought that they could rely on commercial archaeology or that commercial archaeology can function without them

so long as the planners implement the New Planning Policy Statements and make it a requirement that there is archaeological consideration given with all the planning applications I don think that closing down south Yorkshires archaeological service will have any impact on the undertaking of commercial archaeology in that region.
Reason: your past is my past
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#4
But think beyond that? What impact beyond myopic view of commercial archaeology?
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#5
Unitof1 Wrote:so long as the planners implement the New Planning Policy Statements and make it a requirement that there is archaeological consideration given with all the planning applications I don think that closing down south Yorkshires archaeological service will have any impact on the undertaking of commercial archaeology in that region.

It's a big 'if', though, isn't it? IF the planners implement the PPS, and IF they make it a requirement that there is archaeological consideration given with all planning applications, then MAYBE there'd be no impact on commercial archaeology, but in reality the situation is likely to be a lot less rosy. I've posted before about the fact that there's already one Scottish council where the planners appear to make the decisions about when archaeological work is deemed to be necessary, with the result that hardly any new commercial work has taken place over the last couple of years, and I think that a similar situation is likely if the South Yorkshire archaeology service is removed - planners won't have the experience, knowledge or desire to identify when archaeology work is necessary, and so won't ask for conditions, meaning that there will be less work available for commercial firms.

'Ah', you say, 'but the PPS makes it a requirement that all planning applications consider archaeology, so there'd be an automatic need for work regardless of whether there's an archaeologist advising the Council'. All I'd say is 'well, good luck with that, I'll believe it when I see it' - my experience is that blanket requirements of this type are either quickly subject to legal challenge when the developer realises that it's not relevant to the specifics of his proposal, allowing him to claim that it's unduly onerous or burdensome, or are quietly dropped when the planners realise that the only result of the requirement is to involve them in a constant stream of arguements about a subject they probably don't understand and may not particularly care about. Again, the end result is that less work gets done.

There's also the problem of who assesses the validity of all these archaeological reports on behalf of the Council if they don't have their own in-house archaeologist. I'd like to pose a hypothetical situation where, after the removal of all Council archaeologists, the Nigerian Council recieves a report from UnitOf1, concluding that a planning application raises no archaeological issue, and that there's no need for further work. Given Unit's statement on the thread relating to Fenland that he'd willingly change his professional opinion if Councillor Melton 'had enough grease', how could the planner be confident that the assessment that there was no need for further work was correct if he or she doesn't have access to their own archaeological advice? They'd basically be taking it on trust that the archaeologist who prepared the report hadn't been unduly influenced by the depths of the developer's pockets to give advice that minimises the extent of any archaeological issue.

I'm not suggesting that this happens now, or questioning the independence of any commercial companies, but it's something that could happen in the future if there's no-one scrutinising the reports submitted alongside every planning application. After all, there'd be nothing to stop the developer undertaking the study themselves, submitting a report that says 'well, we had a look at a couple of old maps, there's nothing there, so you should just let me go ahead and build whatever I want'. In the current setup, the planner can refer this report to the Council's archaeologist, who can compare it against the HER and their own experience and say 'well that's total bollocks, they've completely ignored the fact that the ark of the covenant was found on the site next door, the holy grail turned up in an evaluation trench on the other side of the road, and the local society found a large chunk of the true cross when working on the site in the 1950s - there's clearly something going on in this area, I think we need an evaluation.'
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#6
SYAS is jointly funded by the 4 South Yorkshire Authorities, Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffiled, under an agreement that states that all four authorities must decide on any cuts to the service, before they can be implemented. A cut of 15% was accepted by the 4 authorities, but Sheffield is now attempting to push through a 50% cut.

The Service is already under considerable pressure as a recruitment freeze has meant SYAS have been unable to recruit a replacement Historic Environment Records Officer since last year. Effectively a 25% cut in staffing levels.
A 50% cut will threaten SYASs ability to carry out their core function: to balance the needs of the historic environment with those of development. SYAS needs to be a properly funded service in order to ensure that appropriate levels of archaeological mitigation are put in place, or we risk loosing a unique and irreplaceable part of the regions past.

The cut would also impact on SYAS's work not directly connected to the planning sphere such as South Yorkshire Archaeology Day, and providing information and advice to members of the public, local groups and societies, academics, landowners and indeed the Local Authorities themselves.

South Yorkshire is currently home to several archaeological contracting units, and several more operate within the county on a regular basis. These businesses employ local people and bring in money to our local economy. I believe that cuts will lead to a reduction in SYASs capacity to instigate archaeological works and will mean that there will be less work for these companies and jobs will be lost as a direct result.

If you are concerned about the cuts being proposed for SYAS please get involved in this campaign. There is a public meeting at 11.30 am on Thursday 21st July 2011 at Sheffield Town Hall that everyone is invited to attend. You can email committee@sheffield.gov.uk asking to ask a question on Agenda item 6.

If you live in Barnsley,Sheffield, Doncaster or Rotherham please also email the Councillor on the committee for the service for your area.
steven.wilson@sheffield.gov.uk
CllrKenRichardson@barnsley.gov​.uk
CllrRobinFranklin@barnsley.gov​.uk
amy.rushforth@rotherham.gov.uk
judith.dalton@rotherham.gov.uk
jonathan.wood@doncaster.gov.uk

For those outside of South Yorkshire who care about the protection of its heritage pleasealso feel free to email your concerns."
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#7
Quote:
[SIZE=3]how could the planner be confident that the assessment that there was no need for further work was correct if he or she doesn't have access to their own archaeological advice? They'd basically be taking it on trust that the archaeologist who prepared the report hadn't been unduly influenced by the depths of the developer's pockets to give advice that minimises the extent of any archaeological issue.
[/SIZE]

Because when the application goes into a period of public consultation http://www.durham.gov.uk/pages/Service.aspx?ServiceId=855

Other commercial archaeologists (more reputable), have the opportunity to object to the proposed mitigation as does the public on ?archaeological? grounds. What conciloor fenland did not appreciate although maybe his voting public did is that the ?political? system is the arbiter of what is locally significant outside of a scheduled ancient monument. What I would like to see is that the majority of the archaeology is undertaken pre application, pre construction site, pre ICE contact environments

?we don?t needs smrs for commercial work. They should be part of museums if they want them (which they don?t seem to). Why dont they call for a transfer of the SMR to THE BIG MUSEUM or why doesnt the BIG MUSEUM insist that they have the SMR
Reason: your past is my past
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#8
Unitof1 Wrote:[we don’t needs smrs for commercial work. They should be part of museums if they want them (which they don’t seem to). Why dont they call for a transfer of the SMR to THE BIG MUSEUM or why doesnt the BIG MUSEUM insist that they have the SMR[/SIZE][/FONT]

unit the basis of our undestanding of what is where is the HER/SMR so even the planners require it to be updated and maintained and planners are not equiped to know what is important or how to deal with it or how to make sure some cowboy with archaeologist written on their passport who never publishes anything hasnt just f*****d it up on behalf of her own pocket or some lilolady landowner intent on making a profit out of our heritage
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#9
Is this a not what it says it is list

http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and...contractor

so why have it.

arnt this mob involved as well

http://www.archaeology.wyjs.org.uk/
Reason: your past is my past
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#10
In response to an e-mail sent to the committee e-mail address suggested above I received the following reply

"In response to your request, can I suggest that you either raise any questions at the meeting on Thursday or, if you are not planning to attend, contact John Stonard, Urban Design and Conservation Team Manager, on 0114 273 6206 or on email - john.stonard@sheffield.gov.uk, as he is the officer reporting on this item."

It sounds like this might be a more appropriate place to lodge any comments for interested parties unable to attend - I've just copied and pasted from my original e-mail and forwarded to this chap

one girl went to dig, went to dig a meadow...
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