Ruffley calls on St Edmundsbury Borough Council to back World Heritage Status bid

Thursday, 30 November, 2006

David Ruffley MP has today written to the leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Councillor John Griffiths, calling on him and his Council to give their backing to a Bury St Edmunds World Heritage Status bid.

World Heritage Sites are places of international importance for the conservation of mankind's cultural and natural heritage. In 2005, there were 812 World Heritage Sites, including 26 in the UK and overseas territories.

World Heritage Sites are places that need to be preserved for future generations, as part of a common universal heritage.

To become a World Heritage Site, sites have to be nominated by governments to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee decides on the successful applicants following an assessment by specialist international bodies.

In the UK, the government has a list of sites which it will consider for nomination in future years. This list is referred to as the 'tentative list'- a site must be on this list to even be considered for nomination.

A review of the 'tentative list' will commence in January 2007, taking approximately 2 years to conclude, any application to be included should be submitted by that date.

Any bid is required to have the backing of all local stakeholder councils. Bury St Edmunds Town Council voted to give their backing to any proposed bid on 22 November 2006.

David said:

'Bury St Edmunds is a town steeped in culture and heritage.

'It is the home of St Edmund, England's original patron saint. The ruins of what was once one of the richest and most spectacular Benedictine monasteries in England lie within the town. The Theatre Royal is one of the last Georgian Theatres left in the country. The wonderful new Gothic revival tower makes St Edmundsbury Cathedral the only recently completed cathedral in the UK- only a handful of gothic revival cathedrals are still being built worldwide.

'World Heritage Status would provide a massive boost for our local economy and draw even more tourists from across the globe to our remarkable market town.

'Any bid is reliant upon the backing of local councils and, therefore, I have today taken the matter up with the leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, John Griffiths, impressing upon him the urgency of this matter and explaining to him that any bid for World Heritage Status must have the backing of his council.

'This is an exciting time for Bury St Edmunds and a fantastic opportunity for our town.

'Despite being steeped in so much history Bury St Edmunds itself continues to thrive and expand.

'On the one hand Bury St Edmunds is a traditional market town, which attracts 80 stalls with 1600 feet of stall frontages on a Saturday and only slightly fewer on a Wednesday.

'On the other hand the forward thinking Borough Council has recently begun work expanding the town centre into the former Cattle Market site. This new £100 million development, thoroughly integrated with the historic core of the town, will house a new department store, 35 new shops, 62 residential apartments and a multi purpose public venue.

'Bury St Edmunds is truly an example of how a traditional town can move with the times and yet retain its unique character and charm.

'World Heritage Status would be yet another jewel in the crown of Bury St Edmunds and would help the town retain and promote its fantastic heritage for generations to come.'