Policy round-up: October 2019

  • 01 Nov 2019
  • Article

With another Brexit extension agreed and another General Election in the calendar, October has been a whirlwind of a month. Alongside keeping a watching brief on the daily twists and turns, we’ve been busy working with civil servants to facilitate our house members’ attendance at a series of Brexit preparation workshops. Our month has also included a ministerial meeting on garden tourism, a series of conferences and a steady stream of consultation responses.

In preparation for Brexit, we accompanied several of our house members to a series of workshops organised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to help answer questions from tourism, heritage and arts businesses and organisations. These workshops provided guidance on key issues such as data use, tourism and visitor information and the movement of goods and people, as well as a Q&A opportunity with government officials on technical details. Links to all of this guidance can be found on Historic Houses’ Brexit advice page or the Government’s Get Ready for Brexit advice portal. We will continue to keep house members updated as new guidance emerges, and you can always email us with any concerns: policy@historichouses.org

Later in the month we were delighted to contribute to a series of tourism-related meetings and events, including joining the Heritage & Tourism Minister’s roundtable meeting on garden tourism marketing, and hearing from three of our house members at the Visitor Attractions Conference 2019 (slides will be available here until 11 November). Another highlight of the month was The Heritage Alliance’s annual Heritage Debate, focusing on the theme of ‘reaching for net zero’. Attendees from across the sector heard from a panel of sustainability experts, who shared the challenges and opportunities facing the heritage and tourism sectors as a result of climate change and environmental pressures. The audience heard about the threats that severe weather conditions can pose to heritage sites, innovative approaches to repurposing and adapting historic buildings, and the challenges and opportunities of developing sustainable tourism. The event was filmed, and will shortly be available to watch online here.

Away from Westminster we’ve been regular visitors to Powderham Castle this month, to contribute to academic partnerships established both locally and further afield. At the start of the month, Emma met a group of design students from the University of Pennsylvania for a lively afternoon of discussion about the complex landscape of the UK heritage sector, and the contrast with heritage management infrastructure in the US. The following week Lydia attend the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Exeter and Powderham Castle, which promises to continue several exciting research projects that are already underway - including an archaeological excavation of a roman settlement in the grounds, a topographical study of the surrounding environment, and archival research into the untold LGBTQ histories of the Courtenay ancestors.

As October drew to a close, we made our way to the Law Commission’s offices in Westminster for a pre-consultation meeting to discuss the Commission’s two-year review of weddings law in England and Wales. House members can read our report of the meeting and our assessment of the opportunities and challenges here, and we will continue to be in touch in the coming months to ensure your views are represented in the forthcoming consultation (due in Spring 2020).

With the dissolution of parliament and the start of purdah on the horizon next week, we’ve very much turned our attention to planning for the coming General Election. Our punchy new policy card will be landing in house members’ inboxes next week, and we’re busy writing to manifesto teams and stakeholders to raise cross-party awareness of the importance of heritage and tourism to the next government’s agenda.

Emma and Lydia, the policy team

Image: sustainable public transport at Castle Howard

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