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Bishop calls for crackdown on church lead thieves
3:44pm Thursday 1st November 2012 in News
A Hampshire bishop has urged MPs to support a bill to force scrap metal dealers to be licensed.
The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Tim Dakin, says that there have been more than 50 separate incidents of metal being stripped from the roofs of churches within his diocese since January 2011.
A bill has been put forward by Conservative backbencher Richard Ottoway to bring in the licensing of scrap metal dealers and to make it the law that all cashless transactions have to be recorded.
The bishop said: "I urge as many MPs as have interest in the preservation of not only our national heritage, but also the community bonds which churches strengthen, to support the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill on 9 November."
Diocese of Winchester spokesman Nick Edmonds added: “As one of the worst-hit areas for the crime of lead theft, we are really feeling the devastating impact on local churches, as well as the mindless damage being done to war memorials, railway lines and almost anything where metal is vulnerable to theft.
“On the whole in these circumstances, it's loyal church volunteers who end up struggling to make ends meet so that the buildings stay fit to fulfil their vital community work.
“Repairing the damage to building fabric often reduces the funds available to support activities such as lunch clubs, mother and toddler groups, and youth events, which is devastating, especially in the parishes which have been hit repeatedly by thefts."
The House of Commons will vote on the bill on Friday, November 9.