Copy of a letter to the Lord Chancellor:
Sir, I am writing to you personally
to object in the strongest terms to the decision to erect a County court building
over the unexcavated half of the Chester amphitheatre- the largest and most
sophisticated such structure yet discovered in Britain.
Without the involvement of the court service, this outrageous development
may well have failed due to lack of prospective tenants and sanity thus been
allowed to prevail.
Planning permission was originally granted for the construction of an office
block. This was changed to a hotel and changed again to a court house- all
without the apparent need to adjust the required planning permission or adequately
inform the community. Many people here in Chester, myself included, feel that
the court service's involvement in the series of 'secret meetings' with the
developers and Chester City Council which has led to this extremely unpopular
decision, and the absolute lack of public consultation in the matter, does
the reputation of the court service no good at all.
Even city councillors say they were not consulted.
The level of public outrage at the proposals has led to a series of public
meetings being scheduled. We are determined that the court house should not
be built, at least not in this poorly-considered location (an already traffic-choked
corner of the city, far from public transport links) and that this unique
ancient monument should be eventually fully uncovered and displayed, resulting
in an attraction that does credit not just to our city, but to our country
as a whole.
You may find it useful to read the material pertaining to this matter on the Chester Virtual Stroll website: www.chesterwalls.info/amphitheatre.html - which describes and illustrates the history
of the site, the discovery of the amphitheatre in 1929, details the City Council's
unsuccessful attempt to destroy it back in the 1930s, the remarkable efforts
made over decades to ensure the excavation of the northern half and ongoing
coverage of the current distressing situation.
In addition, a rapidly-growing collection of letters of objection may be found
Steve Howe, 25 Lime Grove Hoole Chester
6/4/00 Back in the late 1960s and early
70s, some 30-odd years ago, Chester witnessed
wholesale demolition, buildings were razed to the ground, an inner ring road
cut a big swathe through the heart of Chester; it was devastation on a grand
scale. Architectural blunders were made in many parts of the city, and today
if you know where to look, they stand out like the proverbial eyesore. That
devastation would have continued, had not a few brave people stood up and
said: "hang on a minute, if we continue like this, we will have nothing left".
Thirty or so years on, nobody has learned the lesson- The amphitheatre was
built by the Romans, yet it takes only a handful of halfwitted people, most
probably driven by financial greed, to bury once and for all Chester's heritage.
No consideration has been given to future generations to see what is, most
probably, the only remaining amphitheatre in the UK.
There are plenty more suitable places to build the new courts, and certainly
in better accessible areas. One only has to go not very far off the tourist
track, and one will find areas of Chester that have been more of less derelict
for a great number of years. I would suggest most emphatically that the people
of Chester voice their protest, to ensure that what bits we have left, are
not erased for ever, but will remain intact for the enjoyment of many future
generations to come.
R. H. Gowen 29 Sedum Close, Huntington Chester
6/4/00 Chester's "Golden Egg" is to
be found in its name- Roman Clty and it is
because of this that it is one of Britain's chief tourist attractions. The
walls, the grid pattern of streets, the Roman remains, these are the things
that draw visitors here.
A special jewel in this cluster of attractive features is the amphitheatre,
almost unique in Britain. What a degree of pride the city could and should
have in this remarkable legacy of the past. Yet see what the City Fathers
are about to do with this treasure- build over part of it. Instead of revealing
more of it, they propose hiding for "goodness knows" how long a part of it,
and for what do they do this? To build a new court of Law.
Is this the sort of thing visitors wish to stare at when they visit the amphitheatre?
Do they wish to see the inevitable court car park and legal gentlemen to enhance
their romantic view of Roman remains?
If any development is to proceed on any part of this important site, either
on part of the amphitheatre or on the adjacent ground, should it not be solely
to the benefit of the better display of the amphitheatre, together wtth an
adequate explanatory sympathetically designed visitor centre by the site?
Surely the present simple explanatory display hoardings on a post that the
visitor meets are just not good enough for such a nationally important site.
Have we no regard for or appreciation of what the city possesses? Wake up
City Fathers and people of Chester to see what is about to happen to this
piece of your history!
And as for Dee House, there are umpteen similar properties all over Britain
and several in Chester. But there is no other equivalent amphitheatre.
Stanley Holliday, Netherleigh House, Eaton Road,
6/4/00 Standing on the green grass
beside the amphitheatre with interesting,
and some beautiful, buildings all around and an extremely busy road in front,
I cannot help thinking that the 1960-ish square concrete block of the new
courthouse, with its ill-proportioned windows and its attached litter of vehicles,
would be more suitably accomodated in a remote corner of Chester Business
When one talks to town councillors of any party, they generally seem fairly
sensible and reasonable people. Why, then, are they collectively at the mercy
of builders like Mr McLean or, come to that, 'advisors' like Scottish Widows
or possibly London and Amsterdam Developments?
If the council can afford £40 million for a useless and unwanted busway...
they certainly have enough money to look after the Dee House area properly.
Perhaps it is as well that the amphitheatre should never be properly excavated.
The council would certainly think it their duty to sell it to an American
businessman to make a Roman Disneyland complete with stuffed lions and Christians
tied to stakes. What a treat that would be for the children!
6/4/00 Several weeks ago I called
for a rising from the 'cloak of anonymity' and to take up the cudgel of democracy.
I've been deafened by the silence of our city council! I suppose my views
on the excavation of the Roman Amphitheatre are considered beneath contempt, as I suppose
are my views on an alternative council.
If this lot of councillors (no matter which national party they support) cannot,
or will not, defend the wishes of the majority of the voters, then next election,
coming soon, vote them out. Replace them with new faces, perhaps younger faces
but above all with people with vision. I feel people who sit in seats of power
too long occasionally need their cages shaken.
Planning permission for offices on the site of Dee House was passed very quietly
in 1995. So now in 2000 the builders start work converting and extending the
old building into a courthouse. Now we find that the Court service is not
the owner but only a tenant. The owner, surprise, surprise, is our very own
County Council. Now anyone who has had any dealings with any of these councils
will realise how they are intertwined. Up until recently there were councillors
who sat on both councils. Is there any wonder at the silence and secrecy but
what can they do about the smell?
William Crawford, 16 Tegid Way, Saltney
13/4/00 Dear members of Chester City
Council, tourism literally brings in thousands
of pounds annually to Chester. It is wanton vandalism to develop the Dee House
site. Once it has been, you all know full well the amphitheatre will never
Bath, Cirencester, Arles, Nimes just to mention a few, go to town to make
the best of ancient remains to tourists. Are you not proud to live in Chester?
Are you not proud to know that we are the caretakers of a past civilisation
and have to protect it for the future?
In any event your traffic censuses- if any have been done accurately- must
have revealed that Vicars Lane and Little St John Street are not capable of
taking more traffic.
Law courts are necessary- even if they are situated a mile out of Chester
people would find them or otherwise... Why cannot you tunnel under Nicholas
Street and take over the police headquarters when it becomes vacant?
I am quite certain if you were democratic enough to give the people- the council
tax payers a vote- we would win and you the city council would lose.
G. Howland 10 Beech Grove, Hoole, Chester
14/4/00 And still the saga of Chester's
Roman amphitheatre rumbles on. Last week's gathering at the Town Hall
was strongly attended despite being poorly advertised and called at the last
As to the more substantive debate about the developers' planning permission,
there are rumours this week about who in the Town Hall corridors knew what
and, if they did know, when did they get to know about it?
Although the news about the developers having permission to build a courthouse
broke just before Christmas 1999, it seems in fact this was information known
about by at least some people in the city council as long ago as November
Now we have the sight of the city council Labour Group being photographed
at the amphitheatre itself, displaying long, sage-like looks of concern about
this great national treasure and the tourists and trade that could come with
it being allowed to go down the tubes.
By the way, there is no truth whatever in the story being put about by some
wag that many of the councillors needed a map to locate the amphitheatre.
But the way they have suddenly realised the importance of this Roman gem,
you would think there were local elections about to take place.
Bob Clough-Parker, Chester Chronicle
20/4/00 Millennium events, particularly
the lecture series arranged by the Chester Civic Trust,
city council and others, have amply demonstrated the tremendous interest there
is in the city's glorious past. It is sad to find at the same time the apparently
unforeseen entry of builders to erect a county court and large car park over
the still buried part of the amphitheatre.
Seemingly the developer and authorities involved are not doing anything legally
wrong, but must stand accused of lacking foresight. Apart from the interest
of residents, it needs to be stressed that estimates show that six million
visitors spend £150 million a year and one third of jobs in the city are tourist-related.
These figures are growing and the area from the excavated amphitheatre to
the river is not only vital to those who live in Chester but is a site of
When the builders suddenly arrived it appeared to most people that nothing
could be done. However, along come Dr Liane Smith and Mr A Williams and, at
two days notice, with minimum publicity, call a meeting in the Town Hall.
Approximately 150 people packed into the Council Chamber and heard that something
might be achieved if there is sufficient public support. Within a week they
then formed a charitable trust, the Chester Amphitheatre Trust,
to try to ensure that the whole amphitheatre remains available for full excavation.
They deserve maximum support from all who appreciate what we have in Chester
and the need now is to act quickly.
Good immediate action would be for a few hundred letters to be sent to the Lord Chancellor, Houses of Parliament, London SW1A OPW and to the Development Control Manager, Town Hall, Chester CH1 2HS. These letters
need not go into detail but merely support the aims of the Chester Amphitheatre
Trust to prevent building on the buried part of the Amphitheatre so that full
excavation can proceed.
There is ample scope for the county court to be built elsewhere. Of course
money will be required fairly quickly to compensate the developer, but the
main cost of excavation and redevelopment will not harm if spread over 20-40
years. Surely funds can be found for such an important project.
D McAllister, Chester
20/4/00 In Waverton on 4th May we
will be having our polling day to elect a
councillor to represent us upon the City Council to assist in the administration
of government and to contribute on our behalf towards the process of legislation
In previous letters to the Standard I have expressed my dismay about the decision-making
process of Chester City Council particularly with regard to the proposed guided
bus system and huge car park on the southern side of our city and my arguments
about it have been detailed and are a matter of record.
I have also expressed considerable dismay over the time taken by the elected
representatives concerning their somewhat covert or concealed way in which
they went about our business of the amphitheatre. The first the majority of
us knew about it was after the decision had been made.
It is a rare event for these Councillors to express their own views in the
local press or on BBC TV, who have a reporter based in our city. What we want,
however is someone who has been there, done that, and maybe even bought the
team cap. We want a modern day Sextus Marcianus who will help to support our
arguments about the excavation of the complete amphitheatre and our arguments
against the guided bus system and the building of the huge car park.
The Chester City Council elections are important and we need to be certain
we get someone who lives in the locality and who will defend the issues we
Recently I became aware that the city council is including under the sphere
of influence of the curvature of the wall of the amphitheatre the remains
of the West Tower of the church of St. John the Baptist.
Although the West Tower is peripheral to the centre of the amphitheatre it
is beyond the periphery of the arc of the wall of the amphitheatre. The West
Tower is a scheduled monument and any excavations near to it would be controlled
in the same manner as for example the foundation excavations at York Minster.
20/4/00 In commenting last
week about the continuing tragic comedy of Chester's Roman amphitheatre coupled with the impending local elections, I forgot to report the view of
the Chester Community/Ratepayers Party.
They have but one candidate this time round, Miss Dora Taylor, who is standing
in the City & St Anne's Ward.
According to her manifesto leaflet: "Plans to dig up the amphitheatre
are stupid. It would cost millions in costs and compensation and at the end
of the day all there would be to show would be an extension of the present
'dip' in the land. Remember the Romans were no friends of ours, they took
us as slaves and some were sent to the galleys to row till they died."
I apologise for my sin of omission last week.
Bob Clough-Parker, Chester Chronicle
20/4/00 Last week my wife and I visited
Chester on an educational trip dedicated to English language and culture.
In our opinion, Chester is a magnificent city, where more than 2,000 years
of history can be noted from buildings and architecture.
And just as we were struck the most, we were informed by an official city
guide about plans to situate an office building partly on top of the remains
of the Roman amphitheatre. Awful! And that in the UK, where respect for history
is so deeply rooted and part of so many traditions.
Unbelievable! And that regarding something to be considered as not only part
of British but also of European heritage. In the latter respect we feel we
have the right to protest. Once destroyed means destroyed for ever. Economic
reasons are not valid here. And besides that, even from an economic point
of view, does the responsible authority have any idea of the value of such
a monument? Tourists, for instance, come and visit your city from abroad where
no Roman amphitheatre can be seen.
Please inform your readers in order to let them stop these plans in time.
Elly and Peter Wouters, Hendrik van Boeijenlaan 22,
2273 DB Voorburg, The Netherlands
20/4/00 I wish to make it known that
I support the campaign to save the Chester amphitheatre.
It is part of our European heritage and should be guarded with care.
Mary Gorsen, Obrechtrode 20, 2717 DD Zoetermeer,
27/4/00 Congraulations to Liane Smith
and the newly formed Chester Amphitheatre Trust for their efforts to preserve the amphitheatre from concrete.
But your report last week that Cllr John Price, Labour's leader of
the council, was "concerned about the views of local people" and that Christine
Russell MP would be consulted made me smile sadly. Planning permission
was, I understand, given as long ago as April 1995- five years ago! I cannot
recollect any attempt before the event or afterwards, to obtain the views
of local people or to generate any publicity for such a contentious matter.
And as for consulting Christine Russell MP, she was then the chairman of the
Planning Committee who agreed the proposal!
Whatever the outcome of the current fire fighting exercise, it would be far
better if the council always issued a news release whenever a proposal of
considerable importance and possible contention is to be put to a committee
for approval. It is then up to you, as an editor, to make a story of it and
it is also up to our elected councillors to make their opinions known and
further publicise the issue. Only in this way can real public interest be
generated when it matters. Yes, I know that I should have read some small-print
list of planning applications on the wall of the Town Hall or under the 'classified'
in the newspaper. But in real life it is only publicity of the sort stimulated
so well by Liane Smith that involves people and makes them express their opinion.
I will be interested to hear if anyone on the council, an elected member or
official, supports my suggested procedure.
S. J. Cooper, 7 Hough Green, Chester
Press Release 29/4/00: GUMMER JOINS
Former Conservative Environment Secretary, John Gummer, has joined
the chorus of opposition to the building of a courthouse on the remains of
Writing in the current issue of Construction News, Mr Gummer criticises the
development as 'a second-rate building, despoiling a first-class archaeological
site, in a city of world renown'. In the article, Mr Gummer blames the Lord
Chancellor's Department for the development, accusing it of commissioning
a succession of poor quality buildings since as long ago as the 1960's. He
continues: 'Now they've surpassed themselves in Chester by threatening to
build a really mediocre building on the site of the Roman amphitheatre in
one of the great cities of Europe. As a result, we shall lose the last chance
to excavate the Roman remains that have yet to been seen in modern times.
'There is no doubt whose responsibility this is. It is the client- Her Majesty's
Government.... This is not a proposal which should ever have been mooted.
How can he (the Lord Chancellor) allow this scheme to continue? A second-rate
building, despoiling a first-class archaeological site, in a city of world
renown. The verdict must be "guilty as charged".'
Commenting, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, David Jones,
who briefed Mr Gummer on the background to the development, said: 'John Gummer
is yet another figure of national standing who is outraged by the Amphitheatre
development. He finds it incredible that, at the beginning of the twenty-first
century, a Government department should be so irresponsible in its treatment
of Chester's unique archaeological heritage. Everyone must join in the call
to the Lord Chancellor to stop this act of wanton vandalism before we lose
the site for generations.'
Mr Gummer's article:
Once upon a time it was a real feather in the cap of a builder when he was
chosen to work on a new courthouse. Until relatively recently, our courts
were among the best buildings in England. From London's Law Courts, designed
by the remarkable G E Street, to the humblest of magistrates' court, we strove
to enhance the majesty of the law by a fitting architectural setting.
Since the '60s, that has all changed and you'd be hard put to find a worthy
building put up by the Lord Chancellor's Department. When I was Secretary
of State, it was recognised this would be the last arm of government to take
seriously my department's campaign for better design.
Now they've surpassed themselves in Chester by threatening to build a really
mediocre building on the site of the Roman amphitheatre in one of the great
cities of Europe. As a result, we shall lose the last chance to excavate the
Roman remains that have yet to been seen in modern times. There is no doubt
whose responsibility this is. It is the client- Her Majesty's Government.
So it's hard luck on the construction company. It must be a real embarrassment
to David McLean Developments to have to operate in such a situation- a high-quality
construction business, building to a sadly deficient design on an important
site. They have made a good reputation for themselves in the North-West and
North Wales and yet, through no fault of their own, they are likely to get
the brickbats when it's the bureaucrats who are the villains of this piece.
This is not a proposal which should ever have been mooted.
To make matters worse, the present Lord Chancellor, the immediate client,
is a man of taste. Whatever may be the complaints about him, his refurbishment
of his lodgings in the House of Lords was a welcome attempt to live up to
the quality of Pugin's original design. How can he allow this scheme to continue?
A second-rate building, despoiling a first-class archaeological site, in a
city of world renown. The verdict must be 'guilty as charged'.
28/4/00 If our so-called representatives had directed their effort of digging holes for themselves into the excavation
of the amphitheatre the issue would bave been resolved years ago.
Let's analyse the efforts of the latest establishment big gun, English Heritage's Henry Owen John and his facts.
Fact one is assumption based on experience. Fact two is also assumption because
if excavation doesn't take place he won't know. But let's get to fact three-
the wonderful Dee House, or is it? Many years ago I prepared plans of this
building. In its time as a convent plans did not exist. These plans reveal
that Dee House is built round or on an existing L-shaped structure. Dee
House inside is anything but a Georgian house. So perhaps Dee House isn't
really so significant after all.
And let's assume Dee House is of significance. Mr Owen-John, how many
Georgian houses have you got listed? How many amphitheatres?
| You say we may not find what we expect- with that thinking would we ever
find or learn anything?
Your letter is such a red herring it should be in the angling section. Dee
House doesn't deserve to stay!
Woods, Long Looms, Creat Barrow, Chester
28/4/00 With reference to the amphitheatre,
can someone explain to me why Dee House is so important to Chester and to
the council of this city? It's an ugly building, it has no merit, it wants
knocking down. Let's have this no-go area returned to us by full excavation.
Could not some august body like the Chronicle open an account to fund
excavation? If everyone in Chester gave a pound, surely this would raise the
Joe Parkinson, Lache Lane, Chester
28/4/00 Copy of a letter to the Lord
The citizens of Chester have since the wholesale distribution (??)
of the city's treasures in the 1960s battled to prevent further destruction.
We are not winning. Over half the city has been demolished to make room for
the motor car.
At present, the Chester Amphitheatre Trust are working desperately to prevent
the still covered section of the Roman amphitheatre from being built over
to make yet another car park. Builders have already started on the site.
There are plenty of more suitable sites for this court house. Do please help
us poor down-trodden Cestrians.
Anne Stewart, Saughall
28/4/00 As was revealed in Parliament
on April 19, the Lord Chancellor's Department
spent an extra £106m last year on advisers. If these advisers are any
use, they will advise the Lord Chancellor that if his department wishes to
retain public respect he would do better to spend the money relocating the
County court and car park being constructed on Chester's Roman amphitheatre.
The county court is the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor's Department
and its construction on this site is causing outrage. When we are told that
it would cost too much to relocate the county court, we must remember that
it is not money that is in short supply but the desire to listen to Chester.
Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton, Tushingham Hall, Tushingham
28/4/00 It has been brought to my
attention that there are plans to build a
new court in Chester on the remains of the amphitheatre.
These plans must be stopped, as the amphitheatre is an archaeological site
of major value. The construction of a new building on such a site visually
eradicates 2000 years of history in one go.
The plans are thus an insult to history, culture and research. I am shocked
that the plans were developed in such a magnificent city.
I sincerely hope that the plans will be dismissed as soon as possible.
Nicole De Bree, The Netherlands
5/5/00 I am writing to add my voice
to the current debate about the amphitheatre in Chester.
I am neither an expert in archaeology or heritage, nor am I a councillor,
but merely a resident of Chester confused by the priorities apparently held
concerning this city. Are we a tourist city or a shopping city?
We hear often that we rely on tourists, but what do they come to see? As every
major city has C&A, BHS, M&S and Debenhams, surely it cannot be these. Is
it possible they come to witness Chester's heritage? How strange, then, that
as a tourist attraction we seem so lukewarm in showing them all we have to
I know of Cestrians, let alone tourists, who do not know that a trip through
Spud-U-Like will reveal Roman archaeology.
Sue Proctor, in her letter seemed to castigate us for only concentrating on our Roman heritage. This
being the case, I question the comments made by Cllrs John Price, Brian Bailey
and Graham Proctor concerning the extension to the Debenhams store. This will
involve the removal of the entire post-medieval sequence where archaeological
remains survive from the earliest times to the present day.
Giving approval for this scheme to go ahead, Cllr Price said: 'This development
is crucially important economically to this city.' Cllr Bailey said: 'I give
credit to Debenhams for expanding in what anyone who has seen it can only
describe as a slum area'. ClIr Proctor apparently believes it to be vital,
despite the possibility of there being valuable finds on the site.
What I deduce from all this is that commerce is the city's god, and that archaeology
is only important if it is in a nice area. This I find incongrous, given that
Dee House appears to be a mish-mash of styles and has been allowed to decay
since its listing.
I am a little short of confidence in the experts that Sue Proctor and others
speak of when you consider the apparent vandalism that was condoned during
the 1960s by the city council. It saw the destruction of the unique 'Elliptical
Building' to make way for the Forum and multi-storey car park.
Surely the city council should have learned from this?
Sue Proctor also made the comment that archaeological methods may be much
better in the future. But it does not mean the opportunity for excavating
the amphitheatre site will come up in the future. It is a good job this attitude
was not adopted hundreds of years ago by the pioneers of archaeology because
Chester would have no history to attract tourists.
I, as a resident of this city am fascinated by its history and believe that
only a small part is known and understood. Given all the rumours, claims and
counter claims, we as residents and shareholders of this city should have
an opportunity to receive all the facts and voice our opinions in a full and
open meeting. After all, we have public meetings to discuss flag poles and
planters. Surely the overall vision of Chester is of far greater importance.
K N Pickering, Chester
5/5/00 I refer to the article 'We
made a mistake' (Chester Chronicle,
Cllr Brian Bailey states that there were 13 city councillors on the planning committee
which considered the application by McLeans to build on the amphitheatre on
One person is recorded as voting against the proposal. Two people say they can't remember how they voted. Do any of the other 10 councillors remember
how they voted?
Can any of them remember voting for this proposal?
If not, do we have a valid planning permission, or is it a 'clerical error'?
Steve Howe, Lime Grove, Hoole
5/5/00 I do not want the amphitheatre
to have offices built because people like
walking in the amphitheatre. People like looking at where the Romans lived.
People like to read the writing that is in the amphitheatre and people like
Iying down on the grass and looking at the amphitheatre.
Gemma Mayled (aged seven) Marlow Avenue, Upton
More interesting reading...
From: Downs Variava architects. To:
Peter de Figueiredo (Chester City Council Conservation Officer). Date: 9th November
Following our telephone conversation this morning, please find enclosed for
your attention the relevant plans showing the court services proposals. we
hope you can look upon this small amendment favourably as it is only the issue
of- 1.4m projection increase to the curtain walling on the rear elevation.
This amendment is vital for the court services to achieve 8m wide courtrooms
throughout the scheme and is fundamental to the success of the project.
This change will result in a recess to the rear elevation of 4-6 m approx
and, although there is a floor area increase of 12sq m approx on both 1st
and 2nd floors, this is not for commercial gain but for the court services
to satisfactorily use the building approved.
Note added to above: Confirmed
can accept as an amendment if the extension is under 25 sq m and therefore
does not generate an extra car space. P de F 8/11/98
From: Peter de Figueiredo. To: Downs
Variava architects. Re: Dee House, Chester
Dear Simon, Further to our telephone conversation today, I confirm that it
is my belief that a more detailed model of the planning proposal would benefit
the presentation of your scheme and enable the Planning Committee members
understand the project better.
The model need not be highly finished, but should indicate the massing, fenestration,
materials and also the adjoining buildings.
It would be helpful also to provide a plan showing the implications of
building outside the area of the amphitheatre to explain the impractibility
of this proposal.
yours sincerely, Peter de Figueiredo
10 May, 2000 Commenting on the answer
given by Government spokesperson Jane Kennedy MP to a Parliamentary question by Conservative MP, Nick Hawkins, Chester's Conservative
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, David Jones, said: "The answer shows
that the Government is determined to proceed with the development of the courthouse
on the Amphitheatre despite the sensitivity of the site and the strength of
feeling in Chester.
Mrs Kennedy has admitted in the answer that her Department was fully aware
of the archaeological significance of the site when it signed the contract
with the developers in December. As John Gummer remarked last week, it is
incredible and outrageous that a Government Department should be happy to
occupy "a second-class building on a first-class archaeological site in a
city of world renown".
'Now we hear that Mrs Kennedy will not meet Liane Smith and Alan Williams
on 15 May- a date she herself suggested- and wants to put the appointment
back by a further eight days, while the building work on the Amphitheatre
proceeds rapidly. By the time the meeting takes place, the structure will
be well advanced.
'It is clear that the Lord Chancellor's Department sees Chester as a remote
Northern city where there is a 'little local difficulty'. It obviously hopes
that the difficulty will soon blow over and be forgotten.
' The people of Chester should make their concerns clear by bombarding the
Department with letters, e-mails and faxes of protest.
'And while he is considering those, perhaps the Lord Chancellor might like
to say whether he is entirely satisfied that a planning permission for a private
office block is an "appropriate approval" entitling him to use the building
as a public courthouse. With the wealth of in-house legal talent at his disposal,
he should have no difficulty in obtaining an early opinion on the question.'
Now go on to the next selection of letters about the Chester amphitheatre...