From the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham:
For the avoidance of doubt:
I need to state once again that the Cathedral Chaper does not manage the shop in its Great Kichen. This is run as a franchise subject to strict business law, as it was in the days of SPCK. Not all petitioners appear to be clear that a franchise is a formal, legal arrangement to which the parties to it are bound.
I ask petitioner no. 273 (Daid Baxter) to note that this “business within the Cathedral” is NOT managed, is NOT controlled and is NOT run by the Cathedral itself. His comment that “letters sent to the Cathedral authorities go unanswered” is incorrect and I ask him to withdraw it. Whatever he means by this, I can assure him and everyone else that all correspondence addressed to the Cathdral is responded to efficiently and professionally (and, I need not add, all its debts are paid when due).
Phil Groom, Petition Administrator, writes: (updated November 30, 2008, 2:48pm)
Thanks for this, Michael: much appreciated and very encouraging to see you dissociating yourselves from the shop so clearly. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to remove comments from the petition, but I
will contact contacted David to alert him to your request and invite him to comment either here or on the Durham page as he sees fit he has kindly responded with a comment below.
With respect to Cathedral correspondence, I can confirm that in my own experience your own and the Chapter’s communications have been as you say.
Part of the problem, unfortunately, is that the business in the Great Kitchen is trading under the Cathedral’s banner as ‘Durham Cathedral Shop’, the name printed on its till receipts, and is an official outlet for Durham Cathedral branded products. As long as this continues then we have a recipe for confusion: as others have noted, visitors to the Cathedral see the shop as an integral part of their overall visitor experience; and if correspondence addressed to the shop or its owners goes unanswered then this inevitably reflects badly upon the Cathedral itself.
No doubt notice to quit has already been served to the shop’s owners in accordance with the terms of the lease, but perhaps in the meantime withdrawing all official Durham Cathedral merchandise from the shop and posting clear disclaimer notices in appropriate places around the Cathedral and on the Cathedral website would help to make the point?
Thanks again, with best wishes for a positive outcome to the situation,