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Advice and Guidance

Now that the restrictions of lockdown are being eased, the Welsh Government has issued guidance for the culture and heritage destination and venues that will soon be welcoming their first visitors. We recognise that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will continue to create particular practical challenges for many people and organisations responsible for historic assets. For example, many historic buildings and sites will remain closed to the public for the time being and they may be vulnerable to damage or a target for heritage crime. Other concerns may arise as the pandemic continues. This page gathers together practical advice and guidance to help owners to respond to the issues that they might encounter during the crisis.

This guidance has been developed for organisations and individuals in Wales who manage culture and heritage destinations and venues that are open to the public. It provides a framework for decision making rather than a set of rules to follow. In addition to setting out general principles and considerations applicable to all destinations, venue-specific guidance is provided for: museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, historic buildings, historic gardens, ancient monuments, cinemas and arts venues, including concert halls and theatres. The operational advice for arts venues will be expanded to include additional guidance for organisations and individuals who rehearse, present or take part in arts activity after consultation with stakeholders in the arts sector across Wales.

You can visit the Welsh Government’s main Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page for all its latest guidance relating to the pandemic and the nation’s recovery. The Welsh Government continually reviews and updates this guidance to reflect the developing situation.

If you are responsible for historic buildings that are not currently in use because of COVID-19 restrictions, there are some measures you can take to keep them safe.
 

  • Turn off water, gas and electricity supplies, but maintain a supply to any intruder alarms and security systems. Make sure that these systems are maintained.
  • Check your insurance cover.
  • Keep a regular eye on the property. If possible, arrange a weekly visit to check building condition and security, whilst following the latest government guidelines on travel and the movement of people.

The Church in Wales has issued specific guidance on the care and use of church buildings, which may be helpful.

General advice on coping during this period is also available from individual denominations. Cytûn have helpfully gathered together the links.

Regrettably, a small minority of people may take advantage of building and site closures to commit crime that affects heritage.

If you're concerned about crime or anti-social behaviour affecting historic sites, please Call 999 in an emergency if:

  • a crime is in progress
  • someone suspected of a crime is nearby
  • there is danger to life or property
  • violence is being used or threatened.

Call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response, such as:

  • when property or part of a scheduled monument has been stolen or damaged and the suspect is no longer at the scene
  • if you suspect unlawful metal detecting is happening in your neighbourhood
  • to give the police information about crime or anti-social behaviour in your area.

101 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you think the property being damaged is a listed building, contact your local authority’s Conservation Department to make them aware.

If you think damage is taking place to a scheduled monument, in addition to contacting 101 please notify Cadw by email at cadw@gov.wales marking your email “Heritage Crime”.

Information on all designated assets (listed buildings and scheduled monuments) in Wales can be found on our online map Cof Cymru

If you need to report a crime concerning maritime heritage, please contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (if the crime is in progress, call 999 first).

Crimestoppers

To pass on information about criminal activity and remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their online information giving page.

You will never have to give a formal statement, talk to police or be a witness in court, and you could receive a reward of up to £1,000 if the information you provide leads to the arrest and charge of at least one person. The Crimestoppers line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

With the warm, sunny and dry weather we have recently been experiencing and with the lockdown rules relaxed in Wales, the message has changed from stay home to stay local, which seems like a perfect opportunity to start to enjoy the wonderful countryside and beaches that we have to offer. However, since the announcement was made on Friday 29 May, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue (MAWW FRS) have attended over 98 grass fires that have either been started deliberately or were accidental.

Recognising the impact that these fires are having on our communities, MAWW FRS are working in partnership with the four local authorities, Dyfed Powys Police, Natural Resource Wales and Cadw in a bid to tackle this issue and to protect the historic environment, natural habitat and surrounding countryside.

During the summer, grass and mountains can become very dry, which means if you deliberately or accidentally start a fire outdoors it will spread very quickly, destroying everything in its path. The damage to the surrounding landscape and the effect on historic features, habitats and wildlife largely goes unrecognised.

We are urging members of the public to take precautions and to follow the safety advice below.

  • Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly dont throw them out of car windows
  • Only use barbeques in suitable and safe areas, never leave them unattended and always extinguish properly.
  • Dont start fires in the countryside dry vegetation means fires will spread quickly and easily.
  • Make sure your BBQ is in good working order before you use it.
  • Make sure let your BBQ cool down after use, before you dispose or move it. 
  • Never start open fires in the countryside.

We need to work together to support our communities during the COVID 19 epidemic, to ensure the safety of our family and friends, neighbours, members of the public and our Emergency Services. Deliberate grass fires reduce air quality as well as stretch valuable emergency services away from lifesaving incidents, so we appealing to everyone to help us to help them at this difficult time. If you see anyone setting deliberate fires, please call the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. To report an ongoing grass fire, please call 999 and ask for the Fire Service.

Membership organisations such as the Heritage Trust Network or the Listed Property Owners’ Club, professional bodies such as the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, and amenity societies such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Victorian Society continue to act as advocates for our heritage. Many of these organisations continue to offer an advisory service even while their offices are closed. Check their websites for more information.

WCVA (Welsh Council for Voluntary Action) has usefully collated all of its COVID-19 guidance and resources for voluntary organisations. The WCVA website also has a page for COVID-19 updates and news.