Hunt criticises government’s ‘lack of commitment’ to historic buildings

Published Friday 5 December 2008 at 13:15 by Lalayn Baluch www.thestage.co.uk

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is calling on the government to reconsider its decision to drop the Heritage Bill, which would have seen the Theatres Trust gain more clout in protecting historic buildings.

The legislation was one of five axed from the Queen’s speech earlier this week, which included only 13 of the 18 bills originally mooted in a draft of the presentation in May. Instead, the speech prioritised laws which would have a greater impact on tackling the economic downturn.
Hunt said: “However the government tries to dress it up, the absence of a Heritage Bill in the Queen’s Speech speaks volumes about their continued lack of commitment to our historic buildings.

“Whilst we may want to debate some of the details, we would be more than happy to work with the government to ensure it got through parliament quickly and efficiently. For the sake of the entire heritage sector, we should not wait another year for the chance to make much needed improvements to the way we protect and preserve our heritage for the future.”

In November it was announced that under an amendment to the Heritage Bill, the Theatres Trust could be made a statutory consultee for any councils and venues wanting to make changes to listed buildings. This would have given the trust the power to prevent incidents such as the partial destruction to the Derby Hippodrome.

Following the Queen’s speech, Theatres Trust director Mhora Samuel expressed disappointment at the bill not being laid out as a priority for next year. However, she said that the organisation would work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to find other ways to secure greater influence in protecting historic buildings.

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