Despite representations from FAME and other heritage bodies, Merseyside Archaeological Service was closed in March 2011. National Museums Liverpool has now announced that access to the Merseyside HER is to be made available for public consultation, at a fee of £500 per day, with a minimum fee of £250. FAME members have expressed their concern at the scale of the increase, so we have written to the Executive Director asking her to explain the proposals.
Liverpool L3 1DG 27 August 2013
Dear Ms Granville
Merseyside Historic Environment Record
I am writing to you on behalf of the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME), which represents over 50 archaeological businesses providing advice and specialist services to commercial clients and developers throughout the UK.
Our members have been actively engaged in development-led archaeological research, excavation, recording and publication in Merseyside for many years. The existence of a comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible Merseyside Historic Environment Record (MHER) has been absolutely fundamental to the successful delivery of this work.
Your proposal to introduce a fee of £500 per day, with a minimum of £250, for access to the MHER raises a number of important questions:
1. Do you charge for public access to your other collections? If not, what distinguishes the MHER from these other collections?
2. In common with most HERs around the UK, the MHER was set up using public funds, from English Heritage, local authorities and other sources. On what legal basis do you claim ownership of, and copyright in, the material it contains?
3. You correctly state that “the information in HERs is not static, as the results of new discoveries and investigations are added, thus increasing knowledge of an area and ability to share the information”. What investment in maintaining and updating the MHER has therefore been made since the closure of the Merseyside Archaeological Service in March 2011?
4. Given the scale of the proposed increases, what additional assurances are you proposing to offer our members in relation to service and data quality?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Adrian Tindall MA FSA MIfA
Chief Executive, Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers