15 February 2007
The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark, speaking on behalf of the Association of English Cathedrals, said:
"The Association of English Cathedrals welcomes this significant contribution to the repair of cathedrals and gratefully acknowledges the additional funding this year from the Wolfson Foundation. English Heritage has also made it abundantly clear that these grants represent a small proportion of the cost of work to cathedrals annually. Several cathedrals still need enormous injections of money if conservation is to succeed.
Most cathedrals were packed again at Christmas 2006, holding many extra services to meet the growing demand. But it is not simply at Christmas or Sunday and daily worship that the cathedrals of this country are making a massive contribution to national life. They are in constant use for national and regional events, university graduations, memorial services, concerts, plays and school visits. Their historic value to our national heritage is incalculable, their educational, visitor and community work contribute to national cohesion.
The costs of maintenance and repair remain very high, the challenge of meeting them is considerable and at present entirely voluntary. We hope that the Government's forthcoming spending decisions will recognise both the historic and the wider social and community value of our cathedrals. We need continued access to grant aid with the simplest possible administration and increasing generosity."