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THe shape of things to come - Historic Scotland / RCAHMS merger
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Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has today announced that the organisation created from the merger between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS is to be a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB).

Charitable status for the new body will be sought from the Scottish Charities Regulator.

The announcement comes at the same time as the launch by the Culture Secretary of the first-ever overarching strategy for the historic environment in Scotland. It is intended that the new NDPB created by the merger will lead and support the delivery of this strategy, drawing on the strengths, skills and experience in both organisations. A 12-week public consultation on the project begins today: you can read more about it on the Scottish Government website.

Talking about the strategy, Ms Hyslop said, "Until now there has been no overarching strategy for our historic environment. These proposals are intended to ensure Scotland's historic environment is understood, valued, enjoyed and enhanced - now and in the future.

"The economic, social and cultural contribution of Scotland's historic environment is of major importance to our country. It contributes £2.3 billion annually to our economy and supports 41,000 jobs. There is so much potential within the historic environment still to be realised and we want to ensure the sector not only continues to play its part but increases its contribution to economic growth in Scotland. This new strategy and lead body will help us achieve that ambition."

Speaking about the new NDPB, Joint Senior Responsible Officers for the project Ian Walford and Diana Murray said: "Now we have had confirmation from Cabinet on what model the organisation is to adopt, we are able to move to the formal consultation process. The coming weeks and months will be busy but will also offer exciting opportunities for more and more joint working between our two bodies.

"The merger will achieve a more resilient, sustainable and effective heritage organisation for the nation. The main focus is to improve quality and service, and to ensure that the duplication of functions is streamlined and that all available resources are targeted at delivering what is needed for the historic environment.

"We would like to thank everybody who has been involved in getting us to this point. A great number of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS stakeholders and partners have contributed to the initial phase of the project: thank you to everyone who fed in to the process.

"The new organisation will help to ensure that Scotland's historic environment is understood and valued, cared for, enjoyed and enhanced, for the benefit of future generations. To make this happen we will need to utilise the unique skills, experience, knowledge and expertise of staff from Historic Scotland and RCAHMS."

The aim of the 12 week consultation is to allow staff and stakeholders to comment and feedback on the purpose and vision of the merged body, along with the new historic environment strategy. The strategy reflects the importance the government places on the contribution of the historic environment to Scotland's culture, society and economy.

Councillor Stephen Hagan, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability commented: "COSLA welcomes the publication of this first ever historic environment strategy for Scotland. We recognise the importance of the historic environment in contributing to a sense of place locally and nationally, as well as its role in supporting the wider economy. COSLA members will be looking at the strategy in detail and we will formally respond following our deliberations."

Raymond Young of Historic Scotland's Advisory Committee and former Chair of Architecture and Design Scotland, said: "The Historic Scotland advisory committee has been committed to helping drive the strategic direction and management of Scotland's unique historic environment. We recognise the successes of both organisations to date and the valuable skills, knowledge and expertise of the staff and we want to build on that. We have an ambition to deliver Scotland's historic environment strategy and the new lead public body which will deliver for Government, the sector, and the Scottish people now and in future generations."

Professor John Hume, Chairman of RCAHMS said: "RCAHMS brings to the new organisation a magnificent tradition of skills, commitment and achievement. Commissioners are working with the Joint Chief Executives to ensure these attributes contribute to the transformation process and to the success of the new organisation."

The public consultation on the strategy will run until 31 July 2013
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