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As part of a recent round of budget cuts, the city council of Ghent will reduce its archaeological service, founded in 1973 and the oldest in Belgium, to a purely administrative body. In the process, at least three archaeologists will be "reoriented" within another departments. Their decades of expertise are thus lost.
There is only one option: these cuts must be reversed, and Ghent must retain a fully-fledged city archaeological service. It owes that, to its heritage, to its finances, to the people of Ghent, and to society.
Ghent and its boroughs have a long history. During the Middle Ages, the city was one of the largest and most powerful in northwestern Europe. The people of Ghent are rightly proud of it. However, the transformation of the team of city archaeologists into an administrative service makes knowledge disappear, makes scientific research impossible, and hinders its intermediary role between policy, the archaeological sector and citizens. When these budgetary measures were presented, the mayor said that Ghent does not save on culture. Is archaeological heritage not culture then? Is Ghent's history not worthy of new insights, mature research and informed communication?
The work of the city archaeologists will be outsourced to private archaeological companies. The city thinks this will save money, but this is wrong. Outsourcing will have pernicious consequences as it removes the proactive role of the city archaeologists in the urban planning process. Redundant interventions, deadline extensions, high risks of unforeseen additional costs, insufficient quality assurance, and insufficient scientific integration will be the result. Every construction site with archaeological research will henceforth become a loose piece of information, with no return on investment. This is not good management of the Ghent people's tax money!
I join the opposition to this budget cut, which deprives Ghent of any future on a shared and substantiated past. The petition and signature list will be handed to the mayor, aldermen, and city councillors before the start of the Ghent city council on 19 December.
Thank you for your support!
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