Director's Message April 2012

It has been a busy couple of months since the last edition of our e-news – with 4 well-attended seminars in close proximity (Understanding Localism on 21 February;  Localism and Planning in a Heritage Context on 1 March; our national tourism conference, Culture – Heritage – Tourism: Developing the Product held at Blenheim Palace on March 16; and our popular BIS Review event, Retail, the High Street Review and the revivification of historic cores on 23 March) we are now full steam ahead planning our forthcoming events. Watch out for our practical Community Asset Transfer event with Bircham Dyson Bell on 31 May, and our NPPF event in Salisbury on 28 June, followed by our series of ‘how to‘ Localism workshops, coming to a venue near you from June!

March has been an important month with both the Budget and the publication of the long-awaited NPPF (see our response) and the announcement in the Budget to withdraw the current zero rate of VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings. Through this tax the Treasury hopes to use our heritage to raise £85m in 2012-13, rising to £125 in 2016-17. The Heritage Alliance, of which the Historic Towns Forum is an active member, has launched a NO campaign to this tax.  Please visit their new campaign page and help them to mobilise the public through your networks, and to identify strong case studies for use in their media work. I urge you please to encourage your networks to:

1. Write to your MP – on the impact it will have (see The Heritage Alliance statement for assistance).
2. Sign the e-petition  – several thousand more signatures are needed to make an impact.
3. Respond to the consultation on the principle of the change.  You have until 4 May to do so.

And finally, if you know of any examples of listed community buildings - such as village halls, or community centres - projects that may be affected by this change, please do let us and The Heritage Alliance know. Please also see further article on VAT and the campaign below.

Let’s all pull together on this one – it is all very well for the Government to recognise the value in heritage for tourism, regeneration and the economy, but it’s not well to raid the sector for taxes. We have a powerful voice as a sector. Let’s use it. Back the NO campaign. Before there is nothing to back it for.