Historic Environment Forum NEWS

The Historic Environment Forum (HEF, formerly the Historic Environment Review Executive Committee HEREC) met on 1 September 2010. 

The Future and the Priorities for Forum  

The Terms of Reference were considered at previous meetings of the Forum.  This meeting discussed a paper which outlined several issues and proposed changes.  Key points from the discussion were:  

  • Members felt that the Forum should retain an advocacy role only where it concerns an issue that is part of its current discussions.  It was felt inappropriate for the HEF to take on a more public profile – members believed that the Forum functioned most effectively as a body that brought together representatives across the sector, who might not otherwise meet.
  • The meeting agreed that further discussion on new members of the Forum should be postponed until the new arrangements had been given a chance to settle down.  However there was agreement that the association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) should be invited to join.
  • The Forum agreed that it would be appropriate to move the secretariat functions to The Heritage Alliance.  
  • There was agreement that Heritage Counts should stay within English Heritage.

Responding to Consultations

HEF noted that there were many live discussions and consultations on Government policy currently taking place; and it was not possible to respond to every one, nor to attempt a single HEF response.  Members noted that while it may sometimes be inappropriate to share individual responses, it may be helpful to discuss them informally in the group.  There was agreement on the importance of encouraging responses from everyone to add volume and weight to the views of the heritage sector. 

Heritage Counts

The Forum was given a presentation on the draft report on the economic impact of heritage investment for Heritage Counts 2010.  Members were also given the opportunity to comment on the text.  The report was launched on 13thOctober 2010. 

HEF discussed the future direction of Heritage Counts and the specific themes for Heritage Counts 2011.  Confirmation of resources available for research and publication were not given, but there were not planned cuts.  HEF discussed potential themes, including skills, local authorities, the voluntary sector, the spending review, the 2012 Games and the ‘Big Society’.   A consensus was reached to base Heritage Counts 2011 around the theme of the ‘Big Society’. 

HELM 

Duncan MacCallum (English Heritage (EH)) reported very briefly that: the HELM External Advisory Panel, e.g. RTPI, IHBC, could be linked into HEF and report to it; HEF could help in developing HELM; and HELM will continue, but EH is likely to be less hands on with training in future. 

English Heritage National Heritage Protection Plan

There has been a big response to the initial EH consultation and the main strategic parts of the Plan have been drafted and the detail is being worked up.  A Draft is to be published over the winter for refinement and the final Plan is expected to be in place for the start of the new financial year (2011-12).

Culture Sport and Evidence Programme

A presentation outlined the work of the CASE programme, which is looking at ways of quantifying the benefits of engagement in sport, the arts and heritage – it analyses drivers, impact and value.  The aim is help to influence DCMS policy and decision making.  Unfortunately limitations on the data mean little progress with the heritage aspects.  The meeting praised the programme, although caution was expressed over the issue of monetary valuation.  CMS stressed that this will not be the only route examined, just one of several strands.  It was also suggested that more research to understand the motivations of individual involvement in culture and sport is needed.   

Brian Human
9 November 2010