From a detecting forum near you:
> For those that have not yet emailed their MPs,
> signed the E petition or made their voice heard..
> do so NOW or make no mistake you will be as
> gulity for the demise of the PAS and the
> hobby as Mr Barford, through sheer apathy!<*

*PS. I keep having to stress that I have never been an advocate of banning 
"metal detecting" (and certainly not on Spanish beaches!). That is somebody 

This whole fuss about "cuts" to the PAS which are not in fact cuts at all 
indeed has at its basis the motive of protecting the hobby of artefact 
hunting and portable antiquity collecting in Britain from its potential 
critics. This is the role the PAS in its present form plays for the most 
active of the current campaigners.

People are being asked by the "metal detectorists" to sign the petition to 
support their aims of getting your MPs to save unregulated portable 
antiquity collecting in Britain from the awkward questions and critics. We 
might like to think why and what this means.

The whole "anti-Roy Clare" campaign has clearly been stirred up by a limited 
group of metal detectorists (three names in particular come to mind) under 
the slogan "save the PAS, save our hobby".

Even a superficial read of what the artefact hunters and collectors and 
their supporters write on their own forums invite reflections on precisely 
why you are asked to support having the PAS 'urgently' taken away from 
future MLA scrutiny and put in the hands of a more supportive BM. Supportive 
of whom? How will this work and to whose advantage and disadvantage? 
(Remembering the difference between the needs of 8000 portable antiquity 
collectors and effective archaeological outreach to a wider public of 54 
million who are not collectors with which the PAS is primarily charged.)

Steve Burch tries to pretend on Britarch "this is not about metal 
detecting", but if we look at what is written  on other forums, it most 
transparently is.

Particularly significant in this respect in my opinion is that just after 
this 'crisis' came to a head (4th December) Roger Bland, the Head of 
"archaeology's largest  (sic) outreach" turned, with a personal statement, 
to.... "metal detectorists". They were encouraged to take up arms on behalf 
of the PAS. It was nearly a week later, after the "detectorist"s campaign 
was well underway, that the CBA's Britarch was asked for support of 
"archaeology's largest outreach" (and not with a personal statement from the 
head of the PAS or even his deputies but through the medium of Pete Twinn 
and Steve Burch) .

Personally, I think it would be far more reasonable to wait for the fresh 
review promised in the summer before deciding what we would like to see 
happen to the PAS. Until then, any petitioning and EDMs or whatever 
suggesting urgent radical change seem premature and ill-considered. 
Especially as in reality this is all mostly at the bidding of eight thousand 
portable antiquity collectors and their supporters who have their own agenda 
for maintaining a status quo which I think it can be argued is not 
necessarily in the best interests of the wider public and the archaeological 
heritage as a whole.

Paul Barford