A copy of the new criteria drawn up in discussion with the working party and now agreed by the CCC's previous Bells Committee and the CCC itself was provided for the CCCBR representatives, along with a copy of the Corrigenda to the Code of Practice; these would be sent for publication in The Ringing World (see Nov. 3rd issue, pages 1051-2). The CCC reported that the working party had completed its task in a constructive and positive manner. The next tasks would be to put the existing lists of Historically Important Bells onto the Churchcare website, which staff aimed to do by January 2007. New criteria lists had been prepared for 24 dioceses, and will be checked and adopted by the CCC before appearing on Churchcare. The suggestion of a use of keywords in bell descriptions was raised, to aid searching. Staff would consider whether that was feasible. The Corrigenda to the Code was only to address issues of wording where necessary, to make sense against the new criteria. There had been no alteration of substance to the text.
The White Paper on heritage protection legislation, previously expected by the summer recess 2006, was now expected soon. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport still hoped for legislation in the 2007-08 Parliamentary session, with implementation by 2010.
The CCC reported that pilot Heritage Partnership Agreements (HPAs) at Rochester and Canterbury Cathedrals were making steady progress, with considerable work going into the draft designation entries (which would replace list descriptions under the new legislation) to bring out the significance of the buildings described. The pilot on the group of the 20 churches in the Taunton Deanery was developing well, with draft designation descriptions now being considered. In all the pilots the next step would be to develop appropriate structures for implementing appropriate management in agreement between all the partners. The proposed pilot in Lincoln diocese had not proceeded.
There were no no further developments to report. It would be extremely helpful to have consistency across the dioceses.
The CCC explained that Synod was making good progress with the legislation to revise the Pastoral Measure, one result of which would be to make a new body, the Church Buildings Council, which would inherit the functions of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches and the CCC, as the central source of advice for church buildings both in and out of use. This would not, however, affect the provision of the PM reports. Concerns over the independence of the advice to the Church Commissioners had been addressed by an arrangement to set up a Statutory Advisory Committee of the new Council to deal with the matters currently handled by the Advisory Board, with four (out of a total of eight) members being appointed on the nomination of the Secretary of State, and to give an inbuilt majority to the independent (i.e. non-church-appointments) voices, should there ever be a vote over matters on which the Advisory Board currently advised. The new arrangements were likely to come into force in 2008, assuming that Parliament approved them within its usual timescale.
The new Quinquennium for the CCC started in June 2006, with a new Council appointed by the Archbishops' Council and now including 3 members elected by the General Synod. The new Council then appointed new Conservation Committees, including a Bells Committee. Membership was now agreed and a list of the members, together with an introductory article, would appear in The Ringing World (see Nov. 10th issue, pages 1071). The Council had agreed that Committee members would be appointed for a maximum of two five-year terms of service, in line with the constitutional requirement for Council membership.
The CCCBR had recently set up a Tower Stewardship Committee to help ringers understand the implications of recent legislation, such as the Fire and Working at Height Regulations. There had been a useful meeting with the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
The CCC explained that the CCC and the Churches Main Committee did lobby when it was able to on legislation that had a direct impact on church buildings, sometimes with successful results. One minor success was the National Lottery Act which now included a clause to say that there must be prior consultation if the Secretary of State wanted to take the balances from one distributor to give to another.
The prospect of the 2012 London Olympics was causing concern that there will be less Lottery cash available for heritage. The CCCBR was making plans for special ringing events during the Olympics.
The next meeting would be on 21st May 2007 at Church House, Westminster.
The Ringing World, February 9, 2007, page 134