MP Tessa Munt in Bishop document row

This is The West Country: Burnham MP in access row Burnham MP in access row

BURNHAM MP Tessa Munt has expressed her disappointment after being refused access to a document explaining a decision to move the Bishop of Bath and Wells away from his traditional home in the cathedral city.

The controversial decision to move the Bishop out of the ‘modest flat’ within the Bishop’s Palace to a house outside Wells - reportedly costing £700,000 – has come under the spotlight.

A petition of more than 2,000 signatures calling for the bishop to remain in the palace – home to bishops for more than 800 years - was presented to the Church of England’s General Synod.

Ms Munt’s request for a copy of the Church Commissioners’ ‘Statement of Reasons’, the document which explains the Commissioners’ justification for the move, was refused.

She said: “I am absolutely stunned that after repeated requests for the reasons behind this bizarre and unpopular decision, the Church Commissioners fail even at this stage to understand the importance of transparency, openness and honesty.

“I have today written to the Church Commissioner formally to ask them to overturn this absurd secrecy and make the ‘Statement of Reasons’ available for all to see and understand.”

A spokeswoman for the Church Commissioners said: “The Church Commissioners issued a public statement setting out its reasons on December 3, 2013.

“Sir Tony Baldry MP set out the Commissioners position at a meeting towards the end of January and a further statement was issued on February 10, 2014.

“These reasons were reiterated at the General Synod in July as part of questions to the Commissioners.

“These statements can be found on the Church of England website and have been publically available for some time.”

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