Fresh calls to solve cladding scandal
THE Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich, the Ven. Alastair Cutting, has joined Church of England bishops and others in urging the Government to ensure that residents living in properties with dangerous cladding are not responsible for paying the high, retrospective costs of replacing it (News, 15 January). The £1.6-billion fund, announced by the Government last year, covers only a fraction of the £15 billion needed to replace all unsafe cladding in the country. Archdeacon Cutting, after meeting residents of Royal Artillery Quays, Woolwich, this week, said that it was “unjust” to make residents pay. The Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who also attended, called for a task force to be set up “straight away to identify those at high risk and to go after the developers”. The Archbishops’ Commission on Housing’s report, Coming Home, is due to be released this month (News, 22 January).
Bishop of Salisbury to retire in July
THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, is to retire on 3 July after a decade in post, it was announced on Monday. He said: “In present circumstances, the timing of my retirement has not been an easy decision to make, but it feels right to me and to those I have consulted.” Bishop Holtam, who is 66, was Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London, before being consecrated in 2011. The Crown Nominations Commission is expected to meet in the autumn. During the vacancy, the Suffragan Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, will be acting diocesan.
Whitsey review republished
THE independent review of the handling of allegations concerning a former Bishop of Chester, the late Victor Whitsey, “has now been republished following the resolution of a legal issue”, a statement posted on the Church of England website last Friday says. The report, published in October 2020, found that Whitsey had been able to abuse at least 18 people, children and adults, male and female, without being challenged (News, 22 October 2020). It was taken down temporarily the next month pending an unresolved legal issue.
Ex-churchwarden appeals against murder conviction
A FORMER churchwarden in Oxford diocese, Ben Field, who, in 2019, was sentenced to a minimum of 36 years in prison for the murder of Peter Farquhar four years earlier (News, 25 October 2019), has appealed against his conviction. Sentencing him, the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said that Field “lived by deception and deceit, and had been a well-practised and able liar”. Field’s barrister told the Court of Appeal last week that the conviction was “unsafe” because the trial judge had misdirected the jury. The Crown Prosecution Service has disputed the claim.
ACC’s chief operating officer steps down
THE chief operating officer of the Anglican Consultative Council, David White, stepped down this week as part of the shake-up of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) announced last month (News, 22 January). The ACC is being restructured, and staff are to be made redundant, after a review concluded that most of its programme work could be undertaken locally by Provinces, regions, or other agencies in the Anglican Communion. Mr White spoke of the “great privilege” of serving the Communion for nearly four years.
Next Bishop of Argyll & The Isles elected
THE next Bishop of of Argyll & The Isles in the Scottish Episcopal Church is to be Canon Keith Riglin, who is Vice-Dean and Chaplain of King’s College, London, and Director of Ordinands for the Two Cities area, and also serves as an NSM. He was selected on Saturday by the electoral synod in the Church’s first online episcopal election. His predecessor, the Rt Revd Kevin Pearson, was translated to Glasgow & Galloway a year ago (News, 24 January 2020).
Open letter opposes asylum-seeker move
THE Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave, and the Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, are among the more than 70 signatories of an open letter that objects to proposals to accommodate 200 people seeking asylum on a site next to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, in Bedfordshire. The letter, to the Home Office, argues that the proximity of the site to a centre used for detention could compound asylum-seekers’ anxiety. The location was also remote: away from urban centres, services, and community support, and would consist of prefabricated-style buildings, “raising questions about the health and mental well-being of the residents”.
Penn Club to close months after centenary
THE Penn Club, a not-for-profit 43-room residential club in London founded by Quakers in 1920, is to close its doors at the end of March, despite having just completed a significant refurbishment programme. The club was in Tavistock Square until 1938, when it moved to Bedford Place, in Bloomsbury. Plans to celebrate its centenary last October had been put on hold. Pre-pandemic occupancy rates were more than 80 per cent, and last year, with staff on furlough, the club provided free accommodation to front-line workers at University College Hospital. The club said on Wednesday, however: “The arrival of Covid-19 and the first two lockdowns seriously challenged financial reserves. Lockdown three proved one too many, and it is with deep sadness and regret we must conclude that the Penn Club’s situation is no longer tenable.”
Russell SachPresentation: Worshippers celebrate Candlemas in Chichester Cathedral, on Sunday. It is one of the few cathedrals that remain open for public worship during the lockdown