Examination of witnesses (80-99)|
MONDAY 19 JUNE 2000
80. Why did the developer not use private money
if it is such a good project and raise the funds in the market?
(Ms Alexander) My understanding is that on that one
the grant was absolutely essential to make the project viable
and it was not likely that a commercial loan would have been available.
81. Coming to the danger of overlap, and I only
put it in that sense because the report is somewhat reassuring
about the realities, but there is a danger of overlap between
yourselves, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council. How
do you ensure that there is not any double funding? I know it
says in both cases that the actual or potential involvement of
the other party is taken into account, but is it taken into account
up to 100 per cent of the value of the other party's contribution
or how do you take it into account?
(Ms Alexander) When looking at funding a deficit,
which we call a conservation deficit, we will be looking at what
funds we think are likely to be applicable to a project. Of course
in relation to the Heritage Lottery Fund it may be that we are
also involved in advising them on the benefits of a project, since
we are one of their advisers. We would look at what other funds
might be likely to be coming in and we would identify what deficit
there was left for us to contribute.
82. Is there ever a clash of interest? Since
you are adviser to the Heritage Lottery Fund how do you manage
to keep your judgments separate in relation to a lottery grant
as compared with something on your mainline activity? Do you not
have a vested interest? What I am getting at, I am not expressing
very clearly, is actually a potentially incestuous situation where
you get doubling up of funding by using your relationship with
the Lottery Fund as well as your mainstream activity?
(Ms Alexander) It is absolutely critical that we are
not doubling up public funding, I do absolutely agree. I think
that the report shows that our procedures ensure that does not
happen. But the positive side of it is that we are both working
towards solutions for some of the most difficult and intransigent
buildings, and we do work together on that, rather than trying
to draw a Chinese wall between us.
83. Taking into account, say 40 per cent is
the maximum, if it is something that will be 40 per cent grant
qualifying and if the Lottery Fund comes along and grants the
equivalent of 10 per cent of those costs, does that mean that
you only give 30 per cent?
(Ms Alexander) It does very much depend on individual
projects, because their criteria for funding and the things that
they will fund are quite different from ours. It is quite conceivable
that we will fund at our normal rate the eligible repairs for
a project but that there will be other elements of the project
which the Heritage Lottery Fund or, indeed, one of the other lottery
funds, will fund, which would be outwith our powers and perhaps
outwith our priorities as well. It is more frequently the case
that the funds are coming together in a partnership funding different
bits of a specific project. Our priority now is very focused on
high level structural repair work and the Heritage Lottery Fund
and the Arts Lottery Fund are much more able to fund new parts
of a building and new facilities.
84. Take the case with the businessman with
whom you are going to share in the profits towards the end of
this year, did he also get lottery funding or is it only funding
(Ms Alexander) I do not believe he has any lottery
funding in that grant. My understanding is no.
(Ms Alexander) Categorically, no. I hope I do not
have to be corrected on that.
Mr Williams: We will leave this one now I think.
86. Paragraph 2.10. What were the properties
that received no visitors?
(Ms Alexander) We do not have that information from
the NAO. I believe that their survey was anonymous.
87. Do you have any surveys which you have done
on your own, or any information which helps you to tell me what
properties received no visitors?
(Ms Alexander) No. We are very encouraged that 90
per cent of them received visitors, but we certainly do intend
to include in our survey this year a question which will ensure
that we know from 100 per cent what the numbers are.
88. Do you not think that as the public are
paying for this they might well feel aggrieved that they are paying
for something that apparently no member of the public thinks is
(Ms Alexander) One of the reasons why we felt the
need to publish our own access list is because we want to make
it much more clearly available and much more well known that these
properties are available to visit. I suspect that may have a significant
impact on the visiting numbers, particularly of the smaller properties
who are not otherwise available to the public. Quite a large number
of the properties are already open as visitor attractions with
or without our grant.
89. But why do you think some properties receive
no visitors? Are they not advertised and people do not know about
(Ms Alexander) All of the grant recipients were required
to advertise until recently when we produced our list and we have
taken over that ourselves as from last year. I think it is quite
possible that they are very specialist properties. We are grant
aiding a very wide range of properties from lighthouses to farm
houses to barns to individual monuments, and some of those may
not have great appeal. The purpose of our list and the purpose
of making it accessible through the Internet is actually to give
a little more publicity to them so that people are aware that
this is an asset that they can take advantage of.
90. Mr Young, are you worried about the fact
that there appears to be a culture of English Heritage that what
really matters is that we hold these buildings up, rather than
the public who are paying for this visit them?
(Mr Young) I do not think that is the impression that
the report gives and I do not recognise that impression. I think
the report rightly characterises English Heritage as being interested
both in keeping the buildings up and widening access. They are
actually at the forefront in the public sector certainly on putting
stuff on the Web and encouraging, in an attractive way, visitors.
This report itself says on page three; "It is an example
of modern government", and on page one; "In publishing
their own access guide they have taken control of a key access
enabler." So actually they deserve, I think, a bit of praise
for the way in which a list which hitherto has been kept in the
darkI do not know whyis now
91. You do not know why?
(Mr Young) You are entitled to say that 10 years ago
that attitude was around, and obviously I cannot comment.
92. Why do you think that attitude was around?
(Mr Young) I do not know that it was.
93. Could it be that there is a view which suits
English Heritage very much indeed that these admittedly wonderful
properties are kept up, but the public just get in the way?
(Mr Young) Luckily from my point of view that is not
what the report says. The report praises English Heritage for
the arrangements it is making to give public access to these properties.
It also asserts that between 90 and 94 per cent of the properties
they looked at were visited. I think it is a pretty good record.
94. What are the properties you can visit by
turning up without making any appointment at all? Can you give
me some idea of what they are or how many there are where you
can just turn up and ask to go in?
(Ms Alexander) There are 149 properties of those that
the NAO looked at where no appointment was required.
95. That is out of how many?
(Ms Alexander) Out of 317 that were looked at by their
96. I must admit that I had a friend who used
to enjoy this as a hobby, going around these homes, turning up,
and most of the time he received a pretty unfriendly response
to say the least. These people are in receipt of public money.
Can I just refer you to paragraph 2.13: 27 required appointments
to be made in writing. Some of them required appointments to be
made up to a month in advance? This seems to be absurd. Should
you not insist that if public money is involved just one very
quick phone call the day before or even on the day is good enough?
Why in writing?
(Ms Alexander) I can certainly explain that, but I
think it is very clear from the report that not
97. That was 2.15, sorry.
(Ms Alexander) I have you on 2.15. Just under 2.15
in figure 7, over 90 per cent were able to arrange a visit in
less than a month and over 50 per cent in less than a week.
98. Of course they should, that is incredible,
it should be 100 per cent.
(Ms Alexander) These are for by appointment visits,
and the reason why we allow by appointment visits is because the
majority of these buildings are in day-to-day use, they are private
homes or working farms, schools, nursing homes or working business
premises. To say that people should be able to turn up whenever
they like would not make a great deal of sense. If we were to
say that that means that access should be limited to the low end
of the range, maybe 28 days a year, it might be very much less
possible to make a visit this week than it is for the 50 per cent
of people who found it was possible on this survey. So we feel
that there is good reason for having a by appointment visit when
the circumstances demand, but we only allow that when the circumstances
are such that that is likely to be both more convenient for the
owner and for the visitor.
99. This is where you say it is a working farm
or a nursery or something like that?
(Ms Alexander) Or a nursing home, an office, or a
school. There are all sorts of properties. Nearly 80 per cent
of the grants go to people who are not private owners, they are
running businesses, they are using these properties day in and