Legal challenge considered to stop closure of historic cathedral choir

Campaigners are considering a legal challenge to stop the closure of Sheffield Cathedral’s 400 year-old choir.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 1:37 pm

Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir claims that the approach taken by the Dean and Chapter to close the choir has proven “reckless, short-sighted and opportunistic”.

A spokesman said: “We are considering a legal challenge to the decision on the basis of unfair dismissal on three grounds: lack of clear reasons given; spurious claims around diversity and inclusion; and the cynical timing of their announcement, without sufficiently notifying employees, during the choir holidays, and in the middle of a global pandemic.”

In addition, the campaign group made up of former members of the choir added that: “past correspondence has come to light which calls into question the legitimacy of the Dean and Chapter's decision-making process and looks likely to give rise to a legal challenge”.

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This comes after the Dean and Chapter of Sheffield Cathedral announced that they will close the choir to better reflect Sheffield’s “mixed urban community”.

The decision will make three professional musicians (or ‘lay clerks’) redundant, threatens the scholarships of five student singers (or ‘choral scholars’), and throws into doubt the musical education of around 20 young singers (or ‘choristers’).

Due to ongoing redundancy procedures current members of the choir are unable to comment at this time.

In response to the announcement of the choir's closure, Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir issued a statement saying: “We welcome the Dean and Chapter’s desire to champion diversity and inclusion and their willingness to connect with the ‘mixed urban communities’ in which the cathedral is situated. However, we are alarmed by statements from the Dean and Chapter which attempt to frame their decision to disband the Cathedral Choir as one of championing inclusion.

"We believe that it is dangerous and wrong to characterise our grievances with their decision in this way.”

A petition calling for the Dean and Chapter to reconsider their decision gaining over 4,000 signatures in its first four days online.

Sheffield Cathedral was contacted for a response to the story.

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