[Bell Historians] Great Malvern
c.j.pickford.t21 at _mDex2-y9eA5acbCeyOOqeHBLTUJMq28B2dyo1jpClqzWHu6Gw35kaGF5Y-IBsvYq2v7RLQgSqUIbsws2CyW3u41FPy3ZNWZooo.yahoo.invalid
Tue Mar 10 12:06:09 GMT 2009
For reasons of health and sanity I sort of don't want to get too involved in the recriminations about the Great Malvern judgment - which is absurd, and a huge disappointment to the ringers and parish - but feel that a few comments need to be made after the initial flurry of postings. I have read through the judgment itself (albeit at speed) and it's not all bad news for ringers and bell restoration - even though it's a mighty blow for Great Malvern right now.
First, let's be clear about what the judgment does and doesn't mean - bearing in mind that it applies at two levels, first to the specific instance of the Great Malvern frame and second to the wider issue of principles governing the application of the faculty system for authorising work in churches. It doesn't mean that no existing bellframe will ever be able to be replaced again. It does, though, add to the body of precedent law affecting the parameters for alterations to church fabric and the definition of "acceptable proof of need". The judgment does actually contain some pretty positive stuff about the scope for changes and improvements to churches
Second, it seems to me (maybe echoing Clarrie's comments) that the problem for Great Malvern is that the case for replacing the frame has not been convincingly made in the tight parameters that the Chancellor feels need to be applied in such cases. Rightly or wrongly, the Chancellor has taken the view that arguments based on cost are (to summarise) incapable of reliable analysis, second that the question of "why not repair?" has been insuffficiently addressed, and thirdly that it was not proved that a repair scheme would be unsatisfactory to the ringers. Perceived weaknesses in the evidence presented - rather than the logic applied - are at least in part the cause of the outcome.
Thirdly, the final judgment almost reads like the toss of a coin at the end of a generally well argued and reasonable summary of the evidence presented. It certainly reads oddly against what has gone before. Maybe there is scope for challenge in an "if you've agreed this" then "how can you argue that" analysis.
What seems clear to me is:
1. That the arguments we use in such cases need to be sharpened up considerably to make a better case for replacement (rather than repair) in cases such as this
2. That we ought to be able to use some of the more positive stuff in this judgment to do just that
3. That we need to avoid (in wider public arenas at least) a knee-jerk reaction to this, but to identify real weaknesses (not just irritations) in the judgment to help mount an appeal
What needs to be done to help Great Malvern here is another matter but, sadly, the CCCBR seems to be a toothless tiger in such matters. It is an indictment that the joint meetings with EH and the CBC failed to identify a satisfactory outcome to this long before it reached a consistory court and resulted in a judgment that could adversely affect other schemes.
Not pretending this offers any answers or comfort - more hoping that something positive may yet come from this.
And, don't get me wrong, I do think this is a very bad ruling! But losing a battle doesn't necessarily mean losing the war
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