Could churches in Lavenham, Combs and Colchester benefit from Government’s roof repair fund?

James Cartlidge on Lavenham Church roof

James Cartlidge on Lavenham Church roof - Credit: Archant

Two Suffolk MPs are calling for the Government to help pay for repairs to churches in the area which have been damaged during a recent spate of lead thefts.

Among those to be targeted by thieves in the past few weeks are St Peter and St Paul Church in Lavenham, St Mary’s Church in Combs, near Stowmarket, and the Church of Stratford St Mary, near Colchester.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill believe the local church communities left counting the cost should be given financial assistance from the Government’s Listed Places of Worship roof repair fund, which until recently was not available to churches seeking to replace stolen lead.

This week Mr Cartlidge visited Lavenham Church to assess damage to the roof, which it is estimated will cost around £150,000 to repair. Similarly at St Mary’s in Combs, where around £3,000 worth of lead was stolen, it is likely to cost more than £100,000 to repair the damage caused by the thieves.

Mr Cartlidge said: “I was very moved by the experience of visiting the roof at Lavenham and seeing the impact of the theft at first hand. Ultimately, this theft is a crime against culture, against history and against the most compassionate of institutions. We have a duty to try and assist these great assets of our community so that they can continue to thrive.”

Along with his Bury St Edmunds colleague, he has written to the Government’s Minister for Culture, Tracy Crouch, asking for her help.

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Mr Cartlidge added: “The recent spate of lead theft from church roofs is a major concern and a key issue is the sheer cost of making good the damage. For that reason, Jo Churchill and I have written to the minister concerned to see if the Listed Places of Worship roof repair fund can be used to support these churches so recently and unreasonably damaged.

“This sort of fund can seem a ‘long shot’ but my own church in Assington has benefited from a significant sum through the fund to repair its roof, giving me confidence to pursue this line of finance.

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“I note that the fund has recently been updated to include lead theft but there are technical issues around insurance. As such, we are seeking clarification from the minister on how this fund can be accessed in cases of roof theft, and also asking if churches with recent theft can be prioritised within the fund.”

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