Durham Petition: Chapter Clerk Replies

Phil Groom writes:

Thank you to the Dean and Chapter of Durham for their reply, copied below, to my message forwarding the latest 50 signatures on the petition to rescue Durham Cathedral Bookshop from the Brewers.

This excerpt from my message sets the context for their reply:

… there is a growing sense of astonishment that the Cathedral is still allowing the Brewers to trade from its premises. The impression given by this ongoing situation is that the Cathedral authorities are not sufficiently concerned about the quality of their visitors’ experiences to take the necessary action to resolve it. 

I am sure that this impression is false and that you and your colleagues are extremely concerned, not only about your visitors’ experiences but also about the Cathedral’s reputation which the Brewers continue to tarnish by their dubious business practices, their reprehensible treatment of their staff and their pursuit of their own so-called ‘Orthodox’ mission agenda. Their continued promotion of their particular brand of Orthodoxy – disowned by the wider Orthodox community here in the UK – must surely be to the detriment of the Cathedral’s own mission as a centre of Anglicanism…

… I would be very grateful – indeed, it would be very helpful to all concerned – if the Chapter would be kind enough to make a public statement to help allay the concerns raised, please. In the meantime, I will continue to collect signatures and will forward them to you whenever a multiple of 50 is reached…

Here then is their reply, followed by my further response:

From: Paul Whittaker
Subject: Petition Update: Durham Cathedral Bookshop
Date: 25 November 2008 10:18:18 GMT
To: Phil Groom

Dear Mr Groom

The Dean has asked me to thank you for your e-mail of yesterday and to reply on his behalf.

As you state in your letter we are all of course extremely concerned, and we read the many comments with much more than just passing interest.

But as you have previously been kind enough to acknowledge, you accept our assurances that we are not sitting on our hands even if, for sound reasons, it may appear on the surface that little is happening.

We wish we could say more in public but, at the front of the current situation, injudicious comment will not assist it.  I hope you will feel able to respect that reticence.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely

P M A Whittaker
Chapter Clerk

My response:

From: Phil Groom
Subject: Re: Petition Update: Durham Cathedral Bookshop
Date: 25 November 2008 13:02:20 GMT
To: Paul Whittaker

Dear Mr Whittaker,

My thanks to both the Dean and to you for this response – even a brief note such as this is helpful and I am sure it will go some way towards reassuring those who have signed the petition that their voices are being heard and that the concerns raised have been noted.

As you say, injudicious comment will not help the situation; but a careful and judiciously crafted statement is, of course, another matter and if the Chapter would like to carefully consider what may be said then I am sure such a statement would be warmly received and would, I very much hope, help to win back some of the customers whose trade has been lost.

The Cathedral Shop is far too important a resource to the Diocese – indeed to the whole area – for its running to be left in the hands of men whose agenda is so far removed from that of the Cathedral itself — men who have demonstrated their complete lack of concern for staff welfare, for customer service and even the elementary tenets of honesty and integrity in dealing with others that are essential for running a business, tenets that are all the more important when that business represents the public face of the Cathedral.

Assuming no objections, as an interim measure I will post this brief response on the SPCK/SSG News Blog and I look forward to receiving a fuller response in due course.

My thanks once again, assuring you of my support in whatever action may be necessary to resolve the situation,

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Phil Groom

Phil Groom
SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

2 responses to “Durham Petition: Chapter Clerk Replies

  1. This response is a public statement that the Dean and Chapter are trying to do something about the bookshop occupied by the Brewers. For all those people, who like me, are praying about this situation I do hope that it doesn’t mean just getting the Brewers to pay for stock so that the shop looks good.

  2. Valiant for Truth

    Article in “The Northern Echo” today, Friday 28th


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