Friday 3 April 2015

PACHI PAS FOI (Cont) Roger Gets Promoted

Regrettably, I have never met Roger Bland in person. He runs a Scheme which I am convinced is doing a huge amount of damage to archaeology (both British and wider afield), opinions which I make no apologies for articulating and attempting to justify. I sincerely believe that to be true and, as should be clear from this blog, I am highly concerned about the lack of proper discussion of these issues.

Nevertheless, Dr Bland and I have corresponded periodically over the years, and my perception of that has been that his responses have always been amicable and professional. I've heard him speak in a podcast where he goes off the prepared texts, and  he comes over very impressively, and speaks nicely. I think his Scheme is a bad thing, but have nothing against the man himself. So when the news came through that Dr Bland was promoted to being Keeper of the BM's Department of Prehistory and Europe, it seems a natural human reaction to write an email congratulating him. Which I did. The FOI review provides his reaction to that, appendix 2, pp8-9 of the pdf.

Within four minutes he actually circulated it in the Department (ML, DP, SM, PW, IR and CC) with the comment "it's the word sincere I have issues with". There was nothing insincere about my congratulations, I am not one to mince words. Claire Costin adds a [redacted] person into the mail chain and says "Don't let him rain on your parade!", which seems an odd reaction in the circumstances. Ian Richardson surmises, echoed by Philippa Wlton: "It must be because he thinks you are leaving the PAS". Nothing could be further from the truth, it would probably mean a PAS run along the same lines by Mike Lewis, his deputy. I do not relish such a prospect.

As I have said before, we need a PAS. We need a PAS which has a fixed legally-constituted place within the UK's heritage management (I use the term loosely) system and which has the ability to get tough with bad practice and of course steady and assured access to adequate resources to do the job while the need exists due to current policies.  That is what needs to change, more than the personnel.

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