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Richard Hebditch the National Trust’s External Affairs Director has just said:

“We’re disappointed that the Committee [the High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee] already seems to be ruling out a long tunnel under the Chilterns. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have that designation because of their importance to the nation. As the nation’s biggest infrastructure project for decades, the HS2 project should have the best mitigation for its route through the AONB. In our view, that means a fully bored tunnel. We hope that the Committee will think again on this when they hear from individual petitioners in the coming months.”

Whereas at Stonehenge?

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NT red face

Sunday.

Each day this week the Heritage Journal has been asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we send the following memo to English Heritage’s new Chief Executive, Kate Mavor :

Customer facing staff at Stonehenge have a difficult job made harder by the frustrations of the public. Despite this English Heritage always had some excellent operational staff at Stonehenge. It is then telling to compare staff directories of five years ago and today to reveal a sea change of key staff connected with Stonehenge. One does not expect such a change to take place without impact. Hence from what you have been quoted as saying Kate about the “impact of change and development on heritage”, it is to be hoped you can make time to take a hands-on detailed interest in what has been happening at Stonehenge!

It is very clear that the public and media have deep misgivings about a number of issues. They are entitled to expect better in the management of the nation’s most famous state owned monument, and we feel that a change of course would be widely welcomed along with the restoration of some dignity to the site, would it not?

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If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge or any other site, you can still send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!
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For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

three monkeys3.

Each day this week the Heritage Journal  is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we put questions thrown up by a manifest lack of public empathy.

The footfall and queues were vastly underestimated, didn’t EH recognise the site’s potential and popularity? Was the effective management of coach parties influenced by Top Gear? Was the location of disabled parking spaces assigned by anyone that has attempted to propel a wheelchair or use sticks on a wet incline? What is the effect of the extraordinary wind tunnel foyer on lost workdays? Was the interior exhibition space designated by those preoccupied with shopping and food? Were toilet facilities within reach of the stones planned by a bladderless committee?

There are three monkeys that put this act on before of course!

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today, we ask English Heritage why self-promotion and commercial enterprise is put ahead of the monuments in their care?
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When the monument known as Airman’s Cross was being extracted from Airman’s Corner in June 2012, prior to its move nearby to a pedestrian route between the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and visitor car park, its companion plaque was also excavated. It stated: Airman’s Cross Re-dedicated 5 July 1996 to the memory of Captain Eustace Broke Loraine Grenadier Guards and Staff Sergeant Richard Hubert Victor Wilson Royal Engineers. The first members of the Royal Flying Corp to lose their lives whilst flying on duty. Plaque laid by the Friends of the Museum of Army Flying Middle Wallop’. Last sighted, this plaque was languishing in the corner of a contractor’s site building. Instead a new plaque has been installed in front of the Airmans Cross (circled red in accompanying image). Etched into a finish reminiscent of a tacky kitchen worktop from a budget DIY store, the opening lines state:
AIRMAN’S CROSS
REDEDICATED 1 MAY 2014
TO MARK ITS ACQUISITION
BY ENGLISH HERITAGE…
To cap this, an electrical hook-up installed beyond the edge of the car park enables another EH ‘acquisition’, an ice cream van in outlandish EH livery, to be parked close by throughout the summer.
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Stonehenge Cross.

(In answer to several enquiries, yes these are genuine photographs!)

(In answer to several enquiries, yes these are genuine photographs!)

The public can be forgiven for thinking this solemn monument was cherished in memory of the airmen who lost their lives on 5 July 1912, the Friends of the Museum of Army Flying have similarly no doubt trusted the monument and their plaque would be treated with continuing dignity. We can’t imagine what anyone including Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Countess of Wessex, in whose presence the Airman’s Cross was rededicated, will think of EH’s actions? We today can only put ourselves in the place of the comrades that, in raising the memorial cross to these brave airmen, would scarcely believe that future generations could mete out such shameful treatment. When will a dignified dedication and setting be restored EH?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

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For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

Stonehenge trip

Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we ask English Heritage about safety at the site.

We understand that an ‘anti-slip’ surface is proposed for the pedestrian route between the Stonehenge Coach Park and the Visitor Centre, but we have also heard with alarm that visitors have suffered accidents and injuries including fractures at the site. It is then  appropriate to ask EH: what else are you  doing to combat health and safety issues that have arisen at the site? It is concerning, to say the least, that we even have to ask and we feel there is a degree of irony in the fact that human remains are conspicuously displayed at the site, against the wishes of many of the public, whereas contemporary accident and injury data remain conspicuous only by their absence. When can the public expect this anomaly to be rectified?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

Stonehenge transport

Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we ask about the transport arrangements.

Dear English Heritage, We see on 27 July you applied to vary the planning permission granted for the Visitor Centre (S/2009/1527/FUL), revising the drop off details “to facilitate use of buses in addition to land trains”. And yet back on 7 April EH, you are cited by the media as stating of the land trains: “They have all gone for the moment. They went about a week ago. We do not know when they will be back. The land trains are being serviced and will be offsite for several weeks while we also take the opportunity to look at design improvements.”  The land trains were then replaced with buses months ago, unless of course they are set to make a return, and the introduction of buses was just about accommodating “increased visitor numbers” as your planning application states.

Perhaps then EH  could you make a few things clear please: we would like to know exactly how much the land trains cost in total, exactly why they were withdrawn, why they are now being stored off site, how much this is costing each month, who ultimately is picking up the tab, and are they being brought back or are you sticking with buses?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.

A tanker collecting sewage from the Visitor Centre

A tanker collecting sewage from the Visitor Centre

Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we ask English Heritage – when are you please going to make a public statement about the toilet and sewage problems arising since the opening of the Stonehenge Visitor Centre?

The new Visitor Centre scheme was designed to cope with surface water and foul drainage, but on the very first day of opening there were problems apparently with the toilets. Recently a fleet of portable toilet trailers were installed alongside the Visitor Centre, in the wake of which it seems the toilets still smell and a local suggested that jet cleaning has been taking place.  The pong has otherwise featured in online commentary, and a regularly visiting taxi driver quipped it was induced by the shock of the entry fees. The whiff was even noticeable in the membership reception area after heavy rain, despite being off the wind tunnel admission area.

What then are these toilet problems and what has caused them? Are they exacerbated by increased visitor numbers and parking areas, and is it just after heavy rainfall? How are measures to tackle these problems being funded, and where has the foul waste been ending up during these difficulties? Indeed, is there a threatened impact on the River Avon Special Area of Conservation and the River Till SSSI that is legally protected under the European Habitats Directive?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar.
 

Digger at work on the former A344 in daylight within sight of the stones top right.

Digger at work on the former A344 in daylight within sight of the stones top right.

Each day this week the Heritage Journal is asking English Heritage for transparency in relation to their management of Stonehenge. Today we are asking for a full and frank disclosure regarding the contaminated topsoil.

English Heritage (EH) has stated that topsoil contaminated with asbestos was recovered at night to overcome disturbance to the visitor experience in proximity to the stones, but what of the disturbing effects of the failure to openly inform the public? Had this operation not come to the media’s attention, would the public know even now? Was scrap metal such as barbed wire, and glass including broken bottles not also present in the contaminated topsoil? When are the public going to learn about the content and origin of this topsoil material?

The public deserve a full disclosure declaring the discovery, extent and content of the contaminated topsoil on the former A344, listing the nature and hazard posed by all materials that were present, whether the entire area was recovered, what remains, and exactly when and how long this operation took. May we have this please?

If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!

For other questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar

digging at Stonehenge

Sunday 9 August 2015

Having maintained a silence for over a decade about damage to the stones at Stonehenge, it is in addition now known that English Heritage (EH) failed over the course of a year to inform the public about asbestos imported into the World Heritage Site. Compounding these long silences, EH somehow manages to avoid full frank public disclosure when confronted by the media. Which gives rise to various questions – not least why are EH inherently silent about the management of the site and what else are they being less than transparent about?

From tomorrow, Monday 10 August 2015, the Heritage Journal will be posing questions every day for a week – urging English Heritage to be transparent, issue full statements about matters of concern to the public and come clean when responding to the media.

(If you have a question you would like English Heritage to answer about their management of Stonehenge, send it in to the Journal, if publishable we will see what we can do!)

To see the questions put Stonehenge Questions in our search bar

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When at Stonehenge always use our Conservationometer.

When at Stonehenge always use our Conservationometer.

This week there have been two examples of why it’s important.

First, following the revelation that asbestos was dumped at Stonehenge, the Open Access to Stonehenge group has polled its members about whether the organisation should be “part of an official investigation into pollution of the WHS”. Hmmm. Every summer solstice Stonehenge is “polluted” with litter and sometimes far worse. It wouldn’t happen if OATS members and others weren’t resistant to calls for restricting numbers inside the stones so that adequate control can be achieved. Until they do so it seems a tad pretentious to be wanting to be part of an investigation into other forms of pollution.

Second, while the Stonehenge Alliance got their own message across in the press, (“anything shorter than a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) tunnel would cause “irreparable damage to the landscape”) somehow English Heritage and The Natonal Trust were portrayed as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them: (“English Heritage and the National Trust have also given their support to the option of “the longest tunnel possible”).” Er, not exactly. Those two bodies may well have said that, which suggests they too are supporting a 2.7 mile tunnel, but the dreadful reality is that they have both indicated they are also prepared to support a shorter, damaging tunnel!

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