The City of Wells made history today when local MP Tessa Munt presented a petition of more than two thousand signatures to the General Synod of the Church of England on the first day of its meeting at Church House, Westminster.
The petition was based on the wording of a motion proposed by the Venerable Dick Acworth and supported overwhelmingly by those at a packed meeting in Wells just over a fortnight ago. Tessa had called the meeting in order that local people could make their views known to Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner.
The petition calls for the Church Commissioners to pause, to allow the new Bishop to move into the Bishop’s Palace in Wells and for the Commissioners to reconsider and to consult widely before making a final decision on the Bishop’s accommodation.
Speaking from Westminster, Tessa said:
“This is an important day in the campaign to ask the Church Commissioners to listen to the people they are here to represent, but it’s by no means the end!Read more
Many people have contacted me about the Church Commissioners’ plan to prevent the new Bishop of Bath and Wells from living in the flat in the Bishop’s Palace.
I am writing to provide an update and to ask for your help by signing my email petition below.
I had hoped that when Sir Tony accepted my invitation to visit Wells last Saturday in order to answer the many questions raised by local people, the Church Commissioners would have made a supreme effort to brief him fully. However, questions remain as to exactly why the Church Commissioners have come to the conclusion that the flat in the Bishop’s Palace is “not suitable” for the incoming Bishop and his wife – who have not been consulted on the matter.
Towards the end of Saturday’s meeting, there was an overwhelming majority in favour of Dick Acworth’s motion calling for the decision to be reviewed. Dick’s motion stated: “This meeting believes that the Church Commissioners have made a serious mistake and should reconsider”. There was one abstention; there were no votes against. I have written to the Church Commissioners to inform them of the result. I await their response and will let you know what they say.
Over the last seven days, there have been articles in The Daily Telegraph and The Times, following on from a very helpful article in ‘Country Life’ last Wednesday. Today, I asked the Prime Minister about the Bishop’s accommodation during our weekly Prime Minister Questions’ session in the House of Commons. I am pushing for a meeting with the Prime Minister in his capacity as an Ex-Officio Member of the Church Commissioners as he may have some influence on the outcome.Read more
Local MP Tessa Munt has secured permission from the Speaker of the House of Commons for a debate on Somerset Children’s Centres which are under threat from the leadership at Somerset County Council. It will take place during the evening of Monday the 3rd February.
After receiving a considerable number of emails, letters and surgery visits in local towns and villages about this matter, Tessa is extremely concerned about the future of Children’s Centres in Somerset. One of those under threat in her area is Cheddar Children’s Centre.
Some parents and carers have reported that they first heard of planned closures through other parents, that their questions to the County Council have been ignored by the Councillor responsible and that staff have been reportedly “gagged” and are directing all enquiries to County Hall. When a member of Tessa’s team contacted the county council he was directed to the Council website which wasn’t helpful as it has not been updated since 13th November 2013.Read more
Today I have replied to over a thousand constituents on the proposals for Hydraulic Fracturing, known as ‘fracking,’ in our part of Somerset.
It’s no secret that I am opposed to Fracking. Although fracking has been a fact of life in the UK for decades, the process intended for shale gas extraction is new and untested. Consequently, there should be an even greater duty to address worries about fracking raised by local residents and the scientific community. I believe that the greenhouse gases deposited safely inside shale rock over millions of years should remain there. We should be saving energy – investing in reducing our needs and in renewable technologies which already exist, not extracting every last bit of fossil fuel.
My chief concerns are the risks posed to our local and global environment; specifically, but not exclusively, climate change, water pollution and the storage, transportation and treatment of waste water.Read more
Statement from the Bishop of Taunton and senior staff of the Diocese of Bath & Wells re: Bishop of Bath & Wells accommodation
“The Diocese wishes to express publicly its opposition to the Church Commissioners’ decision that the next Bishop of Bath & Wells will not live at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells.
Despite ample time and opportunity, the Church Commissioners have failed to undertake effective consultation at a local level. Instead they have taken a unilateral decision which has, sadly, cast a shadow over the announcement of our next Bishop.
Based on the scarce information made available to us by the Commissioners, the Diocese cannot support their decision. If there is a persuasive case for the move, it has yet to be made.
We call upon the Church Commissioners to allow the next Bishop of Bath & Wells to begin his new role in residence at the Palace whilst a full and proper consultation about the long-term plans for the Bishop’s residence and office arrangements takes place.”
Rt Revd Peter Maurice, Bishop of Taunton
The Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
The Ven John Reed, Archdeacon of Taunton
The Ven Andy Piggott, Archdeacon of Bath
Revd Preb Stephen Lynas, Bishop’s Chaplain
Preb Dr Catherine Wright, Dean of Women Clergy
Nick Denison, Diocesan Secretary
Harry Musselwhite, Chair of the Board of Finance
Local MP Tessa Munt visited St Dunstan’s School in Glastonbury on Friday to present the a group of students with certificates following a visit to Parliament in December.
“It was great to see the students and staff again on Friday. I talked to them about what I do – both in Westminster and in and around Glastonbury, and as always, the group had questions about how our Parliamentary system works. Visiting schools is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job and I love welcoming students to Parliament to have a look round, explain my job and listen to their ideas.”
21st January 2014
Last week, local MP Tessa Munt requested that Sir Tony Baldry, who answers to Parliament for the actions of the Church Commissioners, attends a public meeting in Wells to listen to her constituent’s concerns about the Church Commissioners’ decision to move the new Bishop’s living accommodation away from the City.
The location date and time have now been confirmed as Wells Museum, Saturday 25th January between 12.00 and 13.30. Residents are invited to attend. Tea and coffee will be served and the meeting will finish at 13.30 promptly.
If you would like any information do not hesitate to write to or email Tessa at the addresses below:
Office of Tessa Munt MP
16th January 2014
Yesterday, local MP Tessa Munt met with Sir Tony Baldry MP, who answers to Parliament for the actions of the Church Commissioners, and Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners in Parliament.
Tessa took the opportunity to summarise her constituents’ concerns about the decision to move the new Bishop’s living accommodation away from the City, the historic home of the Bishops of Bath and Wells for some 800 years.Read more
Having tabled a Parliamentary Question, Tessa has since received an answer from the Church Commissioners:
Tessa has asked further questions which arise from the statement made in the letter.
“I’m meeting with Sir Tony Baldry and Andrew Brown in Parliament this morning. Sir Tony has also agreed to come to Wells to meet local people who are concerned about what is happening”.
I will of course keep people updated when I have a date in the diary”
15th January 2014
Local MP Tessa Munt has asked the Church Commissioners’ spokesperson in Parliament why the Bishop of Bath and Wells is to be moved from the modest flat within the Bishop’s Palace to a house outside Wells reportedly costing £700,000.
“The Church Commissioners made a decision on 28th November that moving the Bishop away from the Bishop’s Palace would help him carry out his ministry and mission with more “privacy”. We have been blessed with effective and engaging Bishops for as long as I can remember, and the Palace provides a unique, atmospheric and contemplative environment for those involved in its life, including the many visitors.”Read more