Serious issues

PUBLISHED: 10:23 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

SIR, — Peter Trevelyan s letter (Herts Advertiser, November 13) raises some serious questions about the way St Albans District Council carries out its work in the area of conservation and design. I agree that the credibility of the council to deal effecti

SIR, - Peter Trevelyan's letter (Herts Advertiser, November 13) raises some serious questions about the way St Albans District Council carries out its work in the area of conservation and design. I agree that the credibility of the council to deal effectively with these matters has now decreased to a level where councillors must surely take steps to reverse the decline.

The St Albans and Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society (the "Arc & Arc") has evidence that there are people in the council who know that an understanding of our past helps us to make a better future. We have received useful support from the council and from individual councillors: the Society's valuable library is now housed in a room behind the Tourist Office; last year's Mayor raised money to fund an annual Mayor's History Prize - administered on behalf of the council by the Arc & Arc; and another councillor has made arrangements with Herts County Council to circulate details of the prize to all secondary schools.

On more important issues however, the council shows a worrying tendency to act in a very different way. Faced with decisions that will determine our future for the next few years, the council cuts staff from its conservation and design team. (The manner in which these cuts were made is an additional cause for concern). The "City futures, City vision" survey seeks the views of the public on a variety of matters, but decisions about what is worth conserving must be made by taking into account not only public opinion, but also the opinions of people who have a special interest in and knowledge of local history. These cuts must be reversed before expertise within the council is lost and the voice of the conservation and design team is weakened further by frustration and demoralisation.

EMERITUS PROFESSOR MICHAEL COOPER,

President, St Albans & Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society.

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