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Salford Uni seminar aims to crack down on heritage site vandalism and damage

By Iram Ramzan

Criminal damage to our historical sites are being targeted, as The University of Salford held a seminar on Friday supporting action against heritage vandalism.

Earlier in the year, English Heritage launched a campaign to tackle the theft of lead from churches and historic buildings, illegal metal detecting, unlawful alterations and damage to listed buildings, vandalism of monuments, arson, graffiti and other anti-social behaviour.

The evening seminar at CUBE on Manchester’s Portland Street was led by Chief Inspector Mark Harrison, policing advisor to English Heritage, Ian Marshall of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s environmental services and Councillor Paul Murphy, Chair of Greater Manchester Police Authority.

Brian Grimsditch, a senior archaeologist of the Centre for Applied Archaeology, said: “Heritage crime is expensive and threatens the conservation of our historical buildings and sites.

“It has been a long standing problem. The problem is growing with actual cases being the tip of the iceberg.”

The recent theft of lead from the roof of 19th Century novelist Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Longsight highlighted heritage crime in Greater Manchester.

Up to £250,000 worth of damage was caused to the newly restored building after rain poured through the roof into its bedrooms.

The seminar attracted over 60 people who, according to their feedback, thoroughly enjoyed the event and all thought it was an important and worthwhile exercise.

The audience consisted of members of the local communities, councillors, archaeological societies, construction industry, community forums, local authority officials, planning officers, professional archaeologists and national archaeological groups such as the Council for British Archaeology (CBA).

Mr Grimsditch said this affects more than just those actively engaged in studying the past such as people who live, work and own heritage assets including listed buildings.

Inspector Harrison gave a presentation on his work including the setting up of the Alliance to Reduce Heritage Crime (which is a voluntary national network), what heritage crime was, how to tackle the problem and who could be involved in reducing the problem.

Ian Marshall gave his view on the subject as a member of Cheshire West highlighting some case studies from Cheshire and Chester.

Paul Murphy spoke about the importance of reducing heritage crime and in particular Greater Manchester’s great cultural and heritage assets.

He also highlighted that even though the whole country was in a ‘state of turmoil’ due to the financial restriction being placed on local councils, the area of heritage crime was such an important one he would be doing his utmost to make resources available to combat the crime.

If you would like to know more about heritage crime, visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

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