Friday, November 11, 2005

Historic charter goes missing

In 1992 Sunderland City Council, so we were led to believe, was awarded city status by the Queen. The city council is administratively a metropolitan district.

Many of our readers will be aware Sunderland City Council is the authority which gained notoriety by instigating the first prosecutions of the so-called Metric Martyrs, Steve Thoburn, a greengrocer and his friend Neil Herron, a fishmonger, under the Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) Order 1994 (SI 1994 No.2866). Thoburn thus became the first person in history to be criminalised for using customary weights and measures: it is not a criminal offence in France, home of the metric system, where use of the livre can still be found.

Neil Herron

By way of commemorating Thoburn (now deceased) and exonerating the Metric Martyrs, Neil Herron has launched himself into a one-man campaign against all manifestations of the EU's despotic rule of this country. He led and won the campaign to defeat John Prescott's proposed elected North East Euro-Region Assembly, a crucial plank of the EU's policy of dismantling its constituent nation states; and he is fighting against illegal parking fines and parking regulations imposed by Sunderland City Council and authorities elsewhere.

Thus the Sunderland fishmonger who modestly describes himself as a new-born political anorak has become a key player in the British resistance movement.

His latest discovery, reported in his blog site is a further embarrassment to the council. In trawling their documents, Herron has found a letter from a civil servant in which the author writes:

Sunderland is a metropolitan district, but I note that you use the term 'City of Sunderland' to refer to the administrative area. I assume Sunderland was granted this status by royal charter. If you could let me have the dates and, if possible, a photocopy of the front sheet of the charter, that would be helpful.

In replying to the official, the council states:

Further to our telephone conversation, our legal department cannot find the document that confirms our city status. However, the following wording is on a plaque outside of the council chamber.......

Herron's findings have been reported in the local press.

Thus it appears an historic document has been lost or mislaid. We wonder what Tyne and Wear Archives Service makes of this and if the document has been deposited with them, and if not, why not. Their web site states: Tyne & Wear Archives Service is the record office for the cities and metropolitan districts of Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and North Tyneside. We preserve documents relating to the area...

We noted in an earlier blog that Tyne and Wear destroyed their parent authorities' deposited building plans, having them microfiched instead. It just goes to show how some record offices court controversy, if only indirectly.

Sunderland City Council must rue the day it criminalised some of their most honest citizens for using pounds and ounces.

Further reading

New regional super repository announced

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