In response to issues raised by representatives of the archaeological sector at an event organised by the Archaeology Forum in October 2013, the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, initiated a review to be undertaken by Lord Redesdale and John Howell MP into the future of local government archaeological services.

These services have traditionally played a key role in the identification, protection, conservation and investigation of England’s rich archaeological heritage – including sites of undisputed international or national importance. In addition they also provide the backdrop for the nation’s long tradition of public involvement with archaeology.

The review wishes to identify sustainable ways of improving or maintaining the provision of these services, recognising that government funding is unlikely to be increased in the short or medium term.

The inquiry wishes to engage the following themes:

1)      The consideration of options for improving the sustainability of local services providing (i) curatorial advice, and (ii) HERs & archaeological archives, drawing on best practice from local authorities in England and elsewhere in the UK;

2)      Whether the knowledge and enthusiasm of third sector organisations could be harnessed to help supplement public involvement in archaeology;

3)      The consideration of (i) how the impending creation of Historic England could provide opportunities to forge closer links between local services and their national counterparts, and (ii) if current sector-produced standards and guidance provide the necessary rigour to underpin such a diversity of provision.

More details on the scope of the review can be found here, and a briefing document on local government archaeological services here.

The closing date for responses is 14 February 2014.