Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Meeting with English Heritage

Notes of a meeting held at 3, Bunhill Row, London, EC1 on Monday, 5th March 2007

English Heritage - Richard Halsey, Graham Pledger.

CCCBR - Derek Sibson, Tony Smith, Chris Povey, Ian Oram.

1. Matters Arising from previous meeting notes:

(a) Survey recording techniques: Graham Pledger said that agreement to the model specification was still awaited. He reported on the project at Wissett, where tenders for both Manual and Reflectorless Electronic Distance Measurement (REDM) surveys of the existing timber bellframe had been invited; it was hoped that both surveys could be undertaken, but owing to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) regulations the PCC had to pay in advance for work done before HLF approval was received, so it was decided to undertake only the Manual survey now, since there was no guarantee that HLF funding would be available; it remained an objective to undertake the REDM survey and its cost, which was much cheaper than had been budgeted for, would be included in the future application to HLF.

(b) "Inspired!": Richard Halsey reported that the result of the campaign depended on the latest comprehensive spending review; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) expected to know preliminary allocations in June, but final figures would not be announced before September. Funding for Places of Worship was the second priority after the Heritage Protection Review; even if the same sum was allocated, this would represent a reduction due to the effect of inflation.

2. EH reorganisation: Richard Halsey said that following Government policy, some staff were being required to move out of London to Birmingham or Swindon: inevitably there was resistance to this move. A reduced allocation to EH from the comprehensive spending review would probably result in staff cuts, so these two issues made recruitment to new posts difficult. Some staff had already moved to Waterhouse Square, which would become the permanent London head office for the London Region and secretarial staff.

3. Ecclesiastical Exemption: Richard Halsey explained that this subject was linked with the Heritage White Paper to be published on 12th March, together with a statement from the Minister. The Paper would be open for consultation for about 3 months and should have been brought to the attention of all those who contributed to the earlier consultation. New designation documents would be produced identifying heritage assets, with a new style of record to be published with the White Paper. Using St. Mary's Taunton as a pilot scheme the designation would comprise (i) the church, (ii) the churchyard, (iii) any listed memorials, and, if applicable, any other buildings, e.g. a detached tower: the exemption would follow the whole boundary of the site, not solely the church building; descriptions were very long, listing what was significant about the building, such as its importance to the landscape, its history, its heritage, to enable the building to be understood; there was less about contents and fittings and nothing about bells and bellframes. Richard Halsey suggested that important bells and frames should be included, possibly based on the Council for the Care of Churches (CCC) lists; as EH was responsible for preparing the designations, it would welcome any input from CCCBR. Better designations should reduce the need for a number of separate consents. DCMS was expected to bring forward a new Heritage Bill in 2008, with a view to its being enacted in 2009; however many political changes were possible in that period that might affect progress.

4. Cases of difficulty:

Great Malvern: Graham Pledger explained that he had inspected the Taylor "A" frame at Lancaster Priory, to determine if that provided a valid comparison with Malvern. There was no discernible movement in the Lancaster frame but this was largely because of corner ties into the tower above the "A" frames in the lower tier and direct contact with a steel floor for a mobile telephone installation above the "H" frames in the upper tier. Chris Povey observed that the Lancaster frame was more compact, which made it inherently more rigid than Malvern's frame. It had no need for the large, non-Taylor internal bracing as at Malvern to increase stiffness. EH still had to make a presentation to the Chancellor, following which he would decide how to deal with the case.

5. Other business:

(a) Building-in steel beam-ends: Graham Pledger had provided a postscript to the notes of the last meeting but Chris Povey felt that a specific recommendation from EH was needed to have any impact on the decisions of architects or engineers. Richard Halsey made it clear that firm advice on the use of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) concrete could not be issued, because the circumstances of every situation were different; EH still believed that hydraulic lime concrete might be a suitable alternative to OPC concrete in some lightly loaded situations.

(b) Worcester "Perspectives": the programme had been changed, with the debate about Worcester bells being removed and EH no longer specifically involved; nevertheless Graham Pledger still wished to attend.

(Post-meeting note: Taylors Eayre & Smith Ltd has now accepted an offer from Nicholas Molyneux, the EH regional Casework Team Leader to take part).

(c) Forthcoming retirement: as this would be the last meeting that Richard Halsey would attend, Derek Sibson thanked him on behalf of all past and present CCCBR representatives for his valuable contributions to the meetings over many years, enabling a better understanding of the workings of EH, and wished him well.

6. Next meeting - it was agreed to meet at Bunhill Row on 1st October 2007 at 2.30pm.

The Ringing World, June 22, 2007, page 655