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Campaign to protect Suffolk’s churches

9 August 2010 No Comment

TV personality Griff Rhys Jones is backing a Campaign to protect Suffolk’s churches by urging people to sign a petition to save a valuable repair grant scheme.

“Anyone who lives in Suffolk knows that the landscape is enhanced and punctuated, glorified and illuminated by the county’s priceless collection of medieval churches,” he said. “They link the land and the people. It is inconceivable that we should lose any of them.”

The comedy writer and performer who has a home in Suffolk, is supporting a campaign by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich to save the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. This allows historic places of worship to claim back VAT on all repair and maintenance costs and is due to end in March 2011. With VAT set to increase to 20% in January, it means churches face a double blow. In 2009, Suffolk’s churches undertook over £2million worth of repairs which represents £350,000 in VAT at 17.5% and £400,000 at 20%.

“We want the Government to allow the money that people selflessly give to aid these national monuments to do exactly that, and not to line their coffers,’ said Griff. ‘There is no need for a tax on this work. It is robbing St Peter’s to pay St Paul’s.”

Griff is a seasoned campaigner for the causes of heritage and conservation as he demonstrated in presenting the successful TV programme Restoration that invited the nation to vote for the listed buildings they wanted to save. He was president of the Civic Trust in 2008 and, following its demise in 2009, launched the Civic Society Initiative (now the Civic Voice) to represent the interests of local civic societies. In launching it he said he got letters all the time from people worried about their local churches and other historic buildings.
Now he realises churches can’t afford to lose the vital grant scheme.

“Yes, I know. Churches are always asking for help, but this is a national matter. We have to show that we care. We have to make a demonstration. We have to raise a shout. Please take a moment to sign the petition and show that you care, because you do.

See – Petition

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