Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Petition Update

iPetition PenThank you to everyone who has already signed the Durham Cathedral Bookshop Petition: if you have not yet done so, please head on over there now, read it and, if you share the concerns expressed, sign it.

We now have a dedicated PETITION page on this blog, featured in the navigation bar across the top of every page: please keep an eye on that page for future updates. As I write the petition has 183 signatures from a broad cross section of the community: members of the clergy, a representative of General Synod, students from Durham University and elsewhere, academic booksellers, publishers, at least one concerned author, former SPCK/SSG employees and many others from amongst the shop’s customer base as well as elsewhere. 

The number of signatories is steadily growing and at each multiple of 50 signatures I am re-presenting it to the Dean, the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, until the petition closes — that is, until such time as the Brewers are no longer in control of the Cathedral Bookshop. It has now been sent to him by email three times, the first time to the generic Chapter email address given on the Cathedral’s contact page, subsequently to his personal Cathedral email address. As yet I have received no response, possibly because he has only very recently returned from holiday.

The petition allows space to leave personal comments and many signatories have chosen to take advantage of this to express outrage at the Brewers’ decimation of the shop and at their mistreatment of their staff, as well as to express support for the Dean and Chapter: a selection of those comments will appear in a future update.

Finally for now, however, thanks to those who have mentioned, reported on or linked in to the petition, listed A-Z by post title:

Apologies to any I’ve missed: if that’s you, please let me know and I’ll gladly consider adding your link.

– Phil Groom

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10 responses to “Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Petition Update

  1. Phil , you are doing a wonderful job . How you remember everything is beyond me .

  2. Thanks Justice — though I’m sure I forget far more than I ever remember! A lot of help from my friends is what it comes down to really; and the Brewer brothers always seem willing to help by showing themselves up in the worst possible light: can’t really work out whether it’s something that comes naturally to them or whether they’ve had special training…

  3. I’ve emailed Paul Judson, the communications bod at Durham Diocese, to see if he could spread the word about the petition. I would imagine there would be a lot of local support for it, if we can find some key contacts in the Durham/NE area.

  4. …and a very prompt reply, sadly it sounds like the Cathedrals hands are tied, but signing the petition would at least encourage staff, encourage the Brewers to give up the fight, and demonstrate to any future owner that the demand and goodwill is there.

  5. Encourage staff to do what? Support the Brewers? What future flaming owner? Frankly I’m feeling a little sick. Is this the best Durham can do?

  6. Wish I knew what to say in response to that, mate… beyond a fairly useless sort of “Hang on in there” to you and to the staff who have been doing that for so long now…

    Maybe someone in Durham would like to print out the petition and the list of signatories, recruit the local press and go on up to the Cathedral to present it in person?

    In the meantime I shall keep reporting and blogging as best I can…

  7. asingleblog,I think we are all feeling a little sick,lets not get disheartened . Im sure the support is out there . My hands are definitely not tied .

  8. So landlords in Norwich, Cardiff, London and Sheffield have foiled the Brewers. The attempt to sell some former SPCK shops failed because the Brewers didn’t notice some vital parts of English property law. The bankrupty in Houston failed because Mark Brewer got his US law not quite right, and states he cannot afford to place the bankruptcy under UK law. So, why are Durham Cathedral’s hands tied? Under UK law, Landlord and Tenant, no landlord has to put up with a totally unsuitable tenant. All commercial leases have conditions and break clauses, so that after a certain time, both parties have the right to give notice to quit before the end of the agreement. From what I know of heritage sites, there are usually conditions about “not bringing the organisation into disrepute” and maintaining a proper supply of heritage goods relating to the site. I am sure from all we hear that the Brewers must have broken some terms of the lease. Come on Durham Cathedral, be as brave in the 21st century as those before you were, and stop worrying about an American lawyer and his family. You have right and popular opinion on your side. Think cash and how much more income a better shop could provide, but mostly think pastoral and justice, as Christ’s good shepherds should, and think about the suffering of the human beings trying to run that shop.

  9. Wise words, Wisdom: thank you; and now that we’ve passed the 200 signatures mark I’m submitting the petition to the Cathedral — directly to the Dean, in fact — once again. This time it goes by both email and hard copy through the post, recorded delivery (previous submissions have been email only: the emails haven’t bounced back so I’m reasonably sure they’ve gone through, but recorded delivery leaves no room for doubt).

  10. Have now received a response from the Dean: originally dated 27th August, it apparently vanished into the vast cloud of emails surrounding planet Earth before a copy eventually found its way to me yesterday. Update here.

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