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Trust us with your heritage
Hi All
What do people think of this?
So 171 views and no-one questions Somerset County Couincil's decision to hive off the HER and archaeological advice into a heritage trust?
guess not.........playing devils advocate:

So what?

Quite a few councils outsource archaeological advice
I think the question to be asked is if the service is diminished by this? IF the service is enhanced? will jobs be gained? lost? or 3rd sectored?
Jack Wrote:guess not.........playing devils advocate:

So what?

Quite a few councils outsource archaeological advice

Fair point. How many outsource the HER?
It's a shame - another case of Gov't not wanting to actually do anything any more, but still creaming off our taxes. However, the only sensible taker for this privatisation at the mo is Bob Ballard, seein' as Jacques Cousteau is no longer with us...
Steven Wrote:Fair point. How many outsource the HER?

Good point. Can't think of any examples where HER is outsourced to a third party 'Trust'-type organisation. And are there actually many councils who've outsourced Advisory services to commercial/trust-type bodies, as opposed to getting the advice from other local authority archaeology officers or conservation officers? Take example of Peterborough, where most Heritage Services have been outsourced to 'Vivacity', but the HER and advisory service remains in-house & run by the Council.

Can see potential for trouble in this case: could bundling advisory services & HER in a 'Trust' with a vested economic interest in conservation & preservation lead to accusations of a conflict of interest from developers?
I don't personally see a problem with the principle, but can't really see what the advantage to the local tax payer is. In reality 'privatised' services are rarely cheaper than in-house, does allow local authorities to remove functions from their books, which government has encouraged them to do since the mid-80s eg rubbish collection, parks and gardens. Most recent trends are to 'trust-asise' functions. This is the way that many library and cultural services are going.

There have been previous examples of outsourcing HER and curatorial functions again going back to the 80s. London has the unique situation where all London boroughs (minus 1 and the City) outsource their curatorial and HER functions to an English Heritage team. Maybe that could be a pattern that other authorities follow in future. Its is also the subject of an ongoing CBA/DCMS consultation.....see the BAJRFed thread Call for Responses on the Future of Local Government Archaeology Services (opened 17th January)
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
There is also the example of Wales, where the HER and curatorial functions are carried out by the 4 Trusts, funded by Welsh Government (through Cadw) - although some local authorities retain an in-house archaeologist (?Denbighshire) and I am aware of one (Brecon Beacons NPA) that is about to bring the curatorial work in-house.

However this model is different to the one proposed for Somerset/Devon in that the SW Heritage Trust has many additional functions regarding museums etc - perhaps it would have been better to keep the HER and curatorial functions with the LPAs and let the museum aspects pass to the new Trust as this may have avoided the potential conflict of interest identified above by In the Pit. Having said that it is possible to see where savings could accrue by bringing 4 HERs and 4 curatorial teams into a single body - maybe other LPAs are being lined up to join in due course (Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, City of Gloucester, City of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset - all have separate HERs and curatorial services and all are in the south-west).

Interestingly, this document: (Accessed via Steven's link) indicates (section 3.2.3, if anyone's interested), says the following:

"Devon’s historic environment service is embedded within the planning team, and initial scoping identified little net benefit to be gained from moving it into the trust"

So whilst Somerset's HER/Advisory will be provided by the Trust, Devon's will not, although the rest of Devon's heritage services will be incorporated into the trust...

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