Funding cuts suspend London blue plaque scheme

 
Plaque for Vincent Van Gogh in Brixton Blue plaques like this one at Vincent Van Gogh's former Brixton home have been used to commemorate achievements for nearly 150 years

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English Heritage says it is to stop its blue plaque scheme because government funding cuts had made it impossible for it to continue.

The organisation, due to celebrate 150 years of commemorative plaques in London in 2016, has had its funding cut by 34%.

Last year, English Heritage said it had had to cut back on installations.

The last shortlisted nominations will be put in place over the next two years, the organisation said.

The scheme sees commemorative plaques attached to residences in London where famous personalities lived.

Inspiring Londoners

The last time installations were suspended was due to war-time economies from 1915 to 1919 and 1940 to 1947.

The scheme, responsible for 869 plaques across London, is solely funded by the government.

Will first stripper make it?

Phyllis Dixey

Phyllis Dixey, the first woman to perform a striptease in London, is on the shortlist but a disagreement over the wording and positioning of her plaque could mean she loses out.

English Heritage historians have recommended she is described as a 'striptease artiste' but 'burlesque dancer' is among the alternatives suggested by residents in St Marks Hill, Surbiton, south-west London.

English Heritage has had its budget cut from £130m in 2010/11 to £92m by 2014 with a "front-loaded" cut of £18m in the first year.

A spokeswoman said it costs an average £965 per plaque.

She said that by reducing the team by two full-time equivalent posts and suspending installations, about £120,000 would be saved each year for two years.

A shortlist of "tens" of people agreed by the independent advisory panel will be worked through.

A plaque to be unveiled for architect John Nash in Great Russell Street next week will be among the last.

A spokeswoman said the decision to suspend installing plaques had been made before Christmas and new applicants were now being made aware.

She said it was hoped that by 2015 alternative funding could be secured or that another organisation could take over the scheme.

A statement read: "English Heritage remains committed to the Blue Plaques scheme that has done so much to inspire Londoners and visitors with the history of the capital and its inhabitants."

In light of 2010 government cut backs, English Heritage prioritised its planning advice services, the maintenance and conservation of its properties, existing grant commitments and its Buildings at Risk programme.

The plaque scheme was originally run by the Royal Society of Arts.

London County Council and then the Greater London Council ran it from 1901 to 1986 before it passed to English Heritage.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 209.

    For those questioning the £s of the plaques -

    It might seem steep, but they are pricing the plaque as process from
    application to final installation.
    I'm afraid it's a fact that administration of these kind of things really adds up. The number of emails, phone calls, letters they receive for a start! And someone has to respond... You would expect them to respond to you.

    Work = Time = £££

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 208.

    The First Law of Making Cuts is to threaten to cut something that does not necessarily cost that much, but which will capture the headlines, the public's imagination, and share the pain.

    The police always complain about back office bureaucracy, but always threaten cuts to front line services, councils always threaten libraries, and did the BBC ever really intend to cut 6 Music?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 207.

    I'd rather they kept these interesting historical anecdotes around than have £50M spent on yet a. n. other war memorial - but I also think that "Help for Heroes" needs that same £50M far more than we need another stupid war memorial!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 206.

    Is the positioning of the plaque for Phyllis Dixey simply a problem of propriety ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 205.

    There is a plaque on the wall of a corner shop in Grantham where one of our best Prime Ministers was born. But I'm sorry to say it's not a blue one!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 204.

    199. Dai the Hanky
    "Whoever EH are using as a supplier know they're mugs. £965 per plaque? what are they plated with 18 carat gold?"

    The article doesn't state how much plaques cost, it merely states 'it costs an average £965 per plaque.'

    What they're doing is paying out £120,000 a year & getting 124 plaques a year erected. For all we know the plaques cost £50, the rest is admin.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 203.

    Just as well imagine buying a house then someone turns up to break the devastating news Tony Blair or Gordon Brown even more devastating Dave Cameron or Nick Clegg grew up there and now we are going to stick a blue plaque on the front to give your kids nightmares

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 202.

    Penny pinching that does this country no favours.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 201.

    I'm struggling with the maths. 869 plaques, £965 per plaque. That makes £838,585 - over 150 years. So that £5,590 per plaque ..... 6 plaques a year ... hmm, that's errrrr ... £5,590 per year .... that's going to go a long way to saving £38,000,000!!!! Is this just a rattle being thrown out of a pram?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 200.

    @David Windsor, 187.
    1. English Heritage is responsible for a huge amount of the historical conservation that goes on in the country, as well as maintaining visitor attractions, advising the government on historical issues, issuing grants to the National Trust, etc. It doesn't get the recognition it deserves.
    2. I think you might be lost - you're looking for the Daily Mail site, I think.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 199.

    Whoever EH are using as a supplier know they're mugs. £965 per plaque? what are they plated with 18 karat gold?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 198.

    193 is absolutely correct. Get a company to do it who puts up for sale signs. They dont charge much, and can be anywhere within the day. Fully insured, with tools, and an understanding of listed buildings regs.

    175. I feel very sorry for the employees of EH. I wonder how much time it has spent listening to the ideas of its own employees and volunteers

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 197.

    @171 elcej

    Plenty of other towns have such schemes. They are just not administered by English Heritage, but by local councils and Civic Societies- at much less cost!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 196.

    Saving a few miserly pounds here and a few there and yet we waste millions on unjust interference in other countries!

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 195.

    I enjoy the blue plaques scheme, they occasionally throw up a historical person or event I was unaware of. So for me they are a learning experience.

    And at an average cost of £965 per plaque, the cost is reasonable.

    Note: The story did not say £965 for the bit of blue stone that a lot of you are quoting, the money includes the historical research and placement if you read the story correctly!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 194.

    Why isn't there a Blue Plaque on the house where I was born? lol

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 193.

    This sounds like a completely inefficient way of putting up plaques. A plaque should cost about £150, about £100 to screw it into a wall and no further maintenance until it needs replacing in about 30 year's time. So the cost of maintaining 869 plaques should be about £8,000 per year. How the hell it works out to £92 million (over £10 per Londoner per year) stinks of corruption.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 192.

    It's great and I'm all for having something showing local history but it seems to me here that some people have been sat on a nice little gravy train. Saving 120k per year for 2 posts and installations...that's probably around a 45k salary for someone to screw a metal plaque on a wall, way too much in my opinion.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 191.

    "reducing the team by two full-time equivalent posts and suspending installations, about £120,000 would be saved each year for two years."

    Let's assume these full time equivalents earn somewhat over the national average wage, so £30K each. That's still £60K for administering, commissioning, making & installing the plaques each year. The figure of £965 each looks awfully low in that instance.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 190.

    I'm pretty sure that local historians & enthusiasts would be more than willing to off-set the overall costs of these plaques: They ARE a source of local pride: One in Hyde (Cheshire) Commemorates a mining disaster that occurred there....I never even knew mines had existed in the town. And I had lived there 20 years! The savings seem paltry, compared to the incentive for people to learn more.

 

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