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.
I have asked many Parliamentary Questions of Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner responsible to Parliament. Copies of the questions and his answers on behalf of the Church Commissioners are available online at this link. I am sure you will agree that his answers are in no way adequate. As a result, I have filed more Questions.
I am launching a petition for presentation both in the House of Commons and to the General Synod using the wording of Dick Acworth’s motion as its basis, calling for the Church Commissioners to pause, to allow the new Bishop to move into the Bishop’s Palace, to reconsider and to consult widely before making a final decision.
An e-petition is available below for you to sign and share, if you feel you would like to do so. I would ask you to forward this to your neighbours, friends and family and to do so as soon as possible, as my aim is to present a copy of the petition to Parliament and to the General Synod of the Church of England on 10th February 2014.
If you have neighbours, friends and family who do not have access to the internet, I would ask that they please write to me at the House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA to request hard copies.
This is also the address for the return of completed pages – which should be with me before the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England on 10th February 2014 please – the Monday after next.
I know some were unable to attend the meeting on Saturday, and I regret any disappointment caused. Unfortunately, the times offered by Sir Tony Baldry were limited by other commitments locally, and it was difficult to find a venue large enough and available at what was relatively short notice.
I am very grateful to the Trustees, staff and volunteers at the Wells Museum for hosting Saturday’s meeting at such short notice.