I am responding to the grounds for resistance from Persimmon Homes in the case of Fulford Parish Council and the City of York Council in which I am another interested party and acknowledge receipt of the papers for the Judicial Review.
I am shocked that Persimmon Homes who have successfully promoted the false statements that Germany Beck might be a man-made constriction from a time after the battle of 1066 and that the landscape along Germany beck has been substantially altered since 1066, continue to set down so many arguments that a study of the evidence will show is wrong.
In para 33 it is stated the ‘Persimmon Holmes and the Defendant engaged meaningfully with and supported the work of Mr Jones..’ This is wrong. The Defendant did indeed give wholehearted support to my work until mid-2004 when I reported that experts had identified physical evidence that suggested debris from the battle was being recycled alongside Germany Beck. Persimmon have never cooperated but have failed to abide by undertakings give to the City Council and these were all documented at the public inquiry and some are reported in Finding Fulford, the report of the work undertaken by the project.
Since the preliminary finding were announced in 2004 Persimmon have brought my areas of interest within their red-line and have refused repeated request for access. Appeals to the Defendant in this case, documented in my own case against English Heritage in the matter of their failure to designate the battle of Fulford, were also rejected. The offers to do the work at the expense of the Lottery-Funded, battlefield project that was a stated condition in the proposed outline planning consent was rejected. It was argued frequently, and it remains my case, that the work should have been undertaken at the time to provide this information to guide the pending planning decisions.
In quoting my respect for the quantity and quality of Persimmon’s research that neglect to complete the quote by noting that it is the relevance of their work to discovering the battlesite that I question. In 2004 English Heritage wrote to Persimmon’s contractors and said that the specification of the work was defective when hunting for a battlesite. Since that time, the report on the archaeological work from the adjacent site has noted that “For other sites situated on the moraine, the most significant implication arising from the work is the discovery of multi-period archaeology, of some significance, which was previously unrecognised despite the application of the usual prospection techniques in advance of development.” Cath Neal Preliminary Report on Campus 3 2012. The archaeology undertaken was irrelevant and all attempts to do the relevant investigations have been blocked by Persimmon.
In the same paragraph Persimmon repeat the misleading claim that ‘.. no object …dating from the 11th century…’ have been identified. This self-centred view of the finds ignores the extensive amount of material recovered during the battlefield project where, unlike Persimmon, we were conducting metal-detecting. We could argue about the precise dating of the ironwork recovered which very strongly suggest that weapons were being re-cycled after the battle. We could however have had all the facts had persimmon not refused permission to return to discover contextual dating evidence. So persimmon not only failed to conduct a search for items, they have ignored the existence of the material that was fund during the battlefield project, and have refused the chance to have the items contextually dated. So this statement is wrong at so many levels.
Paragraph 34 argues that the archaeological value of the site was ‘considered at length and in detail’ earlier in the planning process. I have reported in the appendix on the planning process in Finding Fulford how the inspector told me on the eve of my evidence that he felt the developers’ had got the archaeological case ‘sewn up’ but would be interested to hear my story of the battle. I have published a detailed critique of the inspectors findings which goes so far as to suggest my findings are ‘something of an illusion’. There was no debate of the issues I raised and I complained to the inspector at the time, and subsequently to the Minister responsible,that it was intrinsically unfair to permit those who could afford QCs to have so much control of the process. I have detailed the humiliations to which I was subjected which at no point touched on any debate about the material and this can be read, along with the text of the exchange with the Minister, in Finding Fulford. The planning process has failed to engage in a debate about the findings from the battlefield and has instead repeatedly asserted that Persimmon’s archaeologists found no evidence for the battle. To attempt to close down consideration of the archeologically value of the site ignores the process undertaken by English Heritage and the requirements of environmental legislation which recognises that new evidence emerges because our understanding alters with time.
The untimely death of my estranged wife, for whom I was caring, at the time when the findings of the public inquiry were announced, prevented my pursuing the matter as effectively as I would have liked when the outline permission was granted.
Para 35 correctly notes that I have not objected to the development of the housing, although as somebody who has worked in the field of housing need, I did suggest to the public inquiry, and subsequently, that a more appropriate type and layout of the housing would better protect the heritage.
But Persimmon is wrong in noting that the access road was subject to another order which did not require a public inquiry. It was not subject to local scrutiny which is now being challenged by the Parish Council. I have, for example, repeatedly asked the Defendants to notify the Minister that they erred in claiming that the area of the junction had been subject to a full archaeological assessment; but they have failed to do so.
Their observation about the separate permission for the access road is also wrong because the access road spans both the junction and the housing site applications. The initial shieldwalls were half in the ‘junction area’ and half on the housing development with the full extent of the retreat phase, where most of the metal recycling sites have been located, also lying within the red-line of the housing development.
Para 36 asserts that there are some fact to support their claim that my information was considered at the reserved matters stage but fails to provide any evidence of these facts. I have to note that I was told explicitly at the recent planning hearing for the reserved matters by the Chair of the meeting that I may not talk about my findings because this matter had already been settled. Instead I confined my address to the elected representatives to ask them to exercise the authority given to them by the democratic mandate to question the veracity of the opinions being given to them by their officers.
There are no ‘facts’ to suggest the City Council had due regard for my finding. On the contrary, they have repeatedly said that the matter of archaeology was decided by the inspector and Minister and it was not their decision. I also wish to add that Persimmon have pursued the same strategy of avoiding debate about the archaeology by expressly precluding it for discussion at their brief public exhibition although their archaeologist was present. She is reported as saying to those members of the public who did inquiry about the battle of Fulford that there is no evidence that it took place along Germany Beck. There has yet to be a proper debate about the evidence for the battlefield. Persimmon have so far been successful in suppressing that debate not least because they have promoted false and inadequate information. To pass this off as a proper consideration is utterly wrong.
Para 37 talks of the consistency of English Heritage. This statement is also contradicted by the facts. In 2004 English Heritage told the Defendants that they should not determine the planning application because of inadequate archaeology related to the battle of Fulford. In March 2005 they changed their stance citing the two misleading pieces of information noted in the second paragraph of this response to Persimmon’s claims of resistance. I also note that I am challenging the improper cooperation between Persimmon’s agents, English Heritage and the Defendants in a separate action: The statements made here are fully documented.
This paragraph also makes the claim that the statement by English Heritage was inaccurately and misleading quoted. This is indeed a charge I have laid against Persimmon who selectively quoted English Heritage at the reserved matters hearing. These are the facts:
The Defendants and Persimmon constantly claim that English Heritage says “The available evidence is insufficient to allow the inclusion of the site on the Register of Battlefields.” But this is taken out of context since the sentence continues “your authority may still be minded to conclude that on the balance of probability it has a significance as the most likely site of this important event.”
English Heritage have consistently asserted, and continue to claim, that Germany Beck is the likely location of the battle of Fulford. To suggest otherwise is untrue.
The issues raised in para 38 are subject of my own action against English Heritage where I challenge their reliance on inadequate and misleading evidence that was largely supplied by Persimmon’s agents while ignoring the extensive evidence that the battlefield project has provided, so I will not rehears it here.
Para 39 states that the Defendant’s archaeologist has ‘reasonably concluded’ that no significant, new material has been brought forward, but this is disputed. I will later outline how some of the physical evidence which was notified to the Defendant in mid 2007, following a tour of six Scandinavian Universities and museum stores collections, has been debated and published. Why the Defendant’s archaeologist has for example ignored the publication about the battlefield debris in the Journal of the Royal Armouries is a matter that calls for him to answer. Until he offers an explanation it cannot be asserted with any confidence that he has reached areasonable and balance view based on the evidence that has been presented.
Para 40 fails to note that on the balance of probability, and in spite of being notified by English Heritage that they were not minded to designate the battle of Fulford because of the planning situation, their own panel of experts nevertheless were of the opinion that the site should be designated. The process whereby this decision was overturned and so much available evidence was ignored is the subject of an on-going legal challenge which the Defendant was aware of and so I dispute that they acted reasonably knowing the designation decision was under review by English Heritage at the time.
Para 41 is wrong in what it claims. First, there was substantial additional work which is detailed elsewhere (but one example is the tour and presentation of finds around Scandinavian Universities and Museums mentioned above). But they repeat accusations that have been refuted many time before namely:
· The material has been extensively peer reviewed prior to, and following, publication. Two chapters of the report were examined in seminars over a year before publication as a part of the process of review where the many expert who contributed to the work (listed in Finding Fulford). The work has been presented at many conferences including the British Museum, the National Army Museum and the Royal Armouries in this country and at three international conferences. The work is now being increasingly cited which is a good measure of the quality of the work.
· The methodology was devised over a year and involved extensive input from English Heritage. The methodology was published and formally review and reported on the website (and reproduced in Finding Fulford). Because the hunt for ephemeral events such as ancient battle requires a new method, great attention was given to this, as Persimmon’s agent well knows because I have told her.
· All of the work was carried out under the supervision of one of the organisation to which the project was contracted using the generous Lottery grant. At no time did Persimmon’s agents ever visit our work to watch the work and have engaged many of the same people and organisations to undertake work for them making this charge ridiculous.
· They talk of lack of referencing and unsupported statements without noting to what this refers. Finding Fulford has 306 endnote references and, as I noted above, was subject to review by my mentors. I make no claim for perfection but claim that everything that could be double checked was and the source of all opinions are noted in the style relevant for academic work because the work is so often cited.
· The final accusation that there is no recognised scientific analysis is is quote provided by English Heritage that was not intended for publication. It relates to the XRF analysis was encouraged to undertake in 2009 as a part of the peer review process. The opinion was given by a person who did not attend the display and who has not seen the data and which they had said they did not intend to be published. There are many tangible pieces of evidence with have been exposed to relevant analysis. This vague charge which seeks to undermine my credibility and therefore the value of the evidence that I am presenting is also misinformed.
Para 42 addresses time limits and I note that even English Heritage in the Designation decision of November 2012 expresses surprise at the seeming extension of time-limits. I have a longer time perspective which is to ensure that a unique and irreplaceable piece of heritage is not destroyed without an honest and informed debate which I hope we will decide deserves preservation.
Para 43 supports the Defendant’s right to make what he considers an informed decision. However I challenge the basis of such a decision since the Defendant’s archaeologist has repeatedly made it clear that his view was formed before the public inquiry and he has failed to address or take account of the information that has been revealed since that opinion was formed. This failure has been constantly challenged and has not yet been explained by the Defendants.
Para 44 to 48 are misleading in their claims that they, Persimmon, followed the instruction of the Defendants and addressed the matters raised in Finding Fulford. Their agents made no attempt to inspect the evidence or discuss the matter raised with myself and simply reiterated their view that the work that they undertook, which English Heritage had noted was not specified in a way that was relevant to finding a battlefield. In no way can this support Persimmon’s claim that they ‘duly complied’ with the request under EIA regulation. From my archaeological perspective, they have knowingly ignored evidence that challenges their claimed compliance. So I fully support the challenge from the Parish Council related to the EIA because the Defendants failed to address the quality and quantity of published evidence available to them.
In summary, I educe evidence to dispute each claim made by Persimmon with respect to the location of the battle of Fulford. I challenge the substance of every one of the matters they dispute in this case as it relates to the Battle of Fulford. My counter-claims are for the most part not matters of opinion or fine professional judgment but matters of testable fact that have been set out clearly and frequently by myself.
20 September 2013
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