Alistair Neill Chief Executive Southampton City Council Civic Centre Southampton SO14 7LY 14th November 2012

Dear Mr Neill, I am writing to you on behalf of RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust. RESCUE is a non-political organisation which exists to support archaeology and archaeologists in Britain and abroad. We receive no support from government and are entirely dependent on the contributions of our members to fund our work. Details of our activities can be found on our website: www.rescue-archaeology.org.uk. We have been concerned to read recent press reports suggesting that Southampton Council has taken the decision to close its archaeology unit, Southampton Archaeology. The unit can legitimately trace its origins to the first appointment of a professional archaeologist in Southampton in 1958, and consequently is one of the longest established local authority units in the country. Since then it has been responsible for excavations of national significance that have firmly established the importance of Southampton as a roman, saxon, medieval and post-medieval cultural and mercantile centre – something which the council has been keen to promote in the development of the new residential and cultural quarters. The current staff of the unit have, between them, amassed a wealth of expertise on the history and archaeology of Southampton that is unparalleled and is irreplaceable. The proposed closure of the unit would be a significant loss to the people of Southampton, and to those developers who seek knowledge and expertise for the efficient investigation of archaeological remains within the city. In addition, as Southampton Archaeology carries out the majority of the development-driven archaeology within the city, RESCUE is concerned that by cutting this service this will seriously compromise the city council's ability to deliver statutory planning services with a historic environment element. There will also be a knock-on effect for the management of the city council's large portfolio of legally protected ancient monuments as this function is also carried out by the archaeology unit. The current staff of the unit are well known to be active in the support of local archaeology and history societies, and in leading a regional branch of the national Young Archaeologists’ Club. This commitment to community outreach and education has been undertaken in their own time and unpaid and this dedication, one would have thought, is something that responsible local government should seek to promote.

If Southampton is serious about its aspirations (outlined in your document “Towards an international city of culture” which places great emphasis on the city’s internationally unique heritage resource) then the closure of the unit and the loss of local expertise is very much a backward step, and we strongly urge you to reconsider. I look forward to your response. Yours sincerely

Diana. Friendship-Taylor (Mrs.) Chairman RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust CC: Cllr Richard Williams (Leader of the Council) Dawn Baxendale (Director of Policy and Economic Development) Cllr. Warwick Payne (Cabinet Member for Housing and Leisure Services)

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