EXPERTS guiding the excavation of Roman remains at the Odeon cinema may not be around in future if the service fails to become self-funding.
The Chester Archaeological Society has raised concerns about Cheshire West and Chester Council Council’s budget proposal to reduce funding to its Historic Environment Team, eliminating financial support entirely by 2017.
After that, the team would rely on external contracts and grants to survive.
The society is objecting because of fears that decades’ worth of knowledge about Chester’s heritage could be lost.
Spokesman Peter Carrington said: “Over four decades past and present members of the Historic Environment Team have made major advances in the knowledge and understanding of the city’s archaeology and history, many of them as essential parts of schemes of monument conservation and enhancement.”
He added: “A complex historic environment such as Chester’s can only be understood by the long-term efforts of a stable, multidisciplinary team.”
A council spokesman said: “The authority fully realises the importance of an appropriate archaeological service to a historic city like Chester but at the present time the service is being subsidised by the council tax-payer to the tune of £250,000 each year.
“Together with many other services throughout the council we are asking our archaeologists to help prevent direct service cuts, to cover the shortfall, by becoming self-sufficient over the next four years.
“This, we believe, could perhaps be achieved by developing more innovative ways of working or indeed providing services to the public and private sectors, thus creating new income streams.
“We would hope that these changes in working practice would help sustain the vital function of recording Chester’s rich history.”