Further commercial events and the sale of homes in the precincts are two of the ways Peterborough Cathedral is seeking to fix its financial crisis.
The latest update on the cathedral’s attempt to improve it’s long-standing debt problem was revealed in a written Parliamentary question from MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson to the Church Commissioners, the body which manages the assets of the Church of England.
Dame Caroline Spelman, speaking on behalf of the Church Commissioners, replied to Mr Jackson’s request for a progress update on the cathedral.
She said: “One of the Cathedral Chapter’s actions to address its financial difficulties has been to implement an orderly and phased property sales programme.
“Several properties are now under offer which will enable the chapter to reduce its borrowings and associated interest payments imminently.
“A new cathedral management team has been established to direct business activities and the cathedral also plans to hold more events to raise income.”
Responding to the statement, a cathedral spokeswoman said: “Selected residential properties in the precincts have been on the open market and most are now under offer. The properties are in the 19th century terrace leading to Wheel Yard. The cathedral’s events programme is being developed to increase its range and its appeal to a wider audience, and this will also help to support the cathedral’s income.”
Events include a new history-themed summer holiday club, movie nights, specialised guided tours, and another Pottage and Ale supper.
The spokeswoman added: “Other exciting plans are in the pipeline too.” Last month acting Dean, Canon Jonathan Baker defended the cathedral’s decision to host a BMW launch event in the cathedral’s nave.
The cathedral’s money woes were revealed last July. Since then there have been more than a dozen redundancies, while the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, has also published his Visitation Charge which sets out how the finances will be brought back into shape.
The cathedral spokeswoman said: “You will see from the charge that one of the problems identified (in addition to the cost of major repairs over-running) was a lack of sound governance, procedure and accountability. This is now being addressed and rigorous financial procedures are in place.”
The cathedral is not intending to introduce entry charges, and since January it has waived charges for regular guided tours. It is also currently advertising for an ‘experienced bookkeeper’.
Mr Jackson said: “It’s very sad that good people have been made redundant and there is obviously a great deal of uncertainty and worry.
“Obviously, the parlous financial state of the cathedral is a real worry and it’s right that the Church Commissioners are intervening directly to help the Cathedral Chapter develop a sustainable long term plan to get back into surplus and be self-sufficient in the long run.”
The bishop who has previously spoken about the problems, declined to comment.