On 13th March 2017, the Second Church Estates Commissioner Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered written question 67095 from Stewart Jackson MP on Peterborough Cathedral.
Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on addressing the financial difficulties at Peterborough Cathedral; and if she will make a statement.
Dame Caroline Spelman: In addition to the answer given on 13 October 2016 to written question 47672, on 6th January 2017 the Bishop of Peterborough issued a visitation charge to the Cathedral Chapter and published his directions to improve governance at the Cathedral. These include:
- A greater degree of accountability for the Chapter
- More involvement of the diocese, especially concerning financial oversight
- The Bishop has the right to attend Chapter meetings, receive meeting minutes and regular financial reporting
- Chapter members will receive increased training to prepare them for their role
The full charge from the Bishop can be found at http://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/userfiles/bishops-charge.pdf
One of the Cathedral Chapter’s actions to address its financial difficulties has been to implement an orderly and phased property sales programme. Several properties are now under offer which will enable Chapter to reduce its borrowings and associated interest payments imminently.
A new Cathedral Management Team has been established to direct business activities and the Cathedral also plans to hold more events to raise income.
The current question concerning the Bishop’s Visitation follows an earlier written question 54985 from Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) on 25 November 2016; he asked, “what assessment the Church of England has made of the appropriateness of procedures and practice relating to the Dean of Peterborough Cathedral standing down”.
Dame Caroline Spelman responded:
“On 22 July 2016 Very Revd Charles Taylor announced his resignation from the Deanery of Peterborough with effect from 2 October 2016. His farewell service took place at the Cathedral on 1 October 2016. There has been no reason to review the appropriateness of procedures and practice relating to the resignation.
In July the Bishop of Peterborough announced his decision to hold a formal Bishop’s visitation of the cathedral to investigate and report on the financial management and the overall governance of the Cathedral. At the time the Bishop noted that “The Cathedral is going through a cash flow crisis. It is taking too long to pay some bills, and paying the staff at the end of the month has been a close thing twice recently.” In response to requests from the Bishop and cathedral Chapter, the Church Commissioners have provided advice, support, and financial backup to help the cathedral in this situation. Whilst some progress is being made, this week the Commissioners intend to increase the loan facility they have made available to the cathedral.”