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Church Commissioners’ decision on Wells

28 March 2014


From Dr D. W. Williams

Sir, - In the recent Church Commissioners' statement on Wells Palace, the Commissioners stated that "the ministry of the new bishop should not be encumbered or restricted by being housed in a place with a high level of public access which is guaranteed and even encouraged in relation to which he might be expected to fulfil a significant role"; and, also, "the Bishop will need to develop a new and less demanding relationship with the Palace Trust in order to be able to focus better on the life of the wider diocese."

I take very strong exception to those statements as not being in any way relevant to the decision to relocate the incoming bishop away from the Palace apartment.They imply either that the previous Bishop was not spending enough time and energy on the diocese, or that the newly elected Bishop will no thave the capacity to do justice to both the Palace and the diocese.

Having chaired the Bath & Wells Diocesan Board of Finance from 2006 to 2012 and attended throughout that period the Bishop's staff meetings, as well as the diocesan-synod meetings, I can attest that the first of those implications regarding the previous bishop is wholly unfounded and farcical. Although I have not met the newly elected Bishop for some years, I cannot believe that the second implication is soundly based, either.

Nevertheless, if the Commissioners believe their own arguments, I would now expect to see the removal of all bishops from their historic residences, including those at York and Lambeth.

As for the house that the Commissioners now intend to be the Bishop's residence, the diocese divested itself of that very property several years ago because it was far too expensive to maintain. I am at a loss to fathom any sensible reason behind what appears to me to be a flawed decision.

Rhos Colwyn, Welsh St Donats
The Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7SS

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