Last chance for expressions of interest in running Lancashire Museums 6/3/2016

Lancashire County Council will go ahead with the closure of five museum sites in April unless it receives expressions of interest in taking over the sites by 27th March. One site, Fleetwood Museum, appears to have a taker: Fleetwood Town Council says it can find the £82-£105k needed to run it through reserved funds and an increase in Council Tax. Terry Rogers, Chairman of Fleetwood Town Council said, “our main concern is not to have [the museum] closed over the spring and summer period because of the trustees and volunteers. We don’t want to lose the continuity of the museum. We have got future plans to use part of the building for community work.

The other sites are the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster and the Queen Street Mill in Burnley.  Former staff have suggested that the mill museums may cost more closed than open, due to the huge size of some collection items and the difficulty of putting them into storage. A local campaign in Helmshore to keep the Textile Museum has attracted the support of 9,000 people including local MP Jake Berry. Lancashire County Council is raising Council Tax by 3.99% and has set aside a £3m ‘fighting fund’ to lessen the impact of cuts on buses, libraries and museums. However, 40 libraries are expected to close.

Writing for The Guardian, columnist Ian Jack contrasted the relatively modest sums needed to save Lancashire’s museums with the £60m promised by George Osborne and London Mayor Boris Johnson towards building a Garden Bridge in Central London – a plan which has met with mixed reviews.  He writes: “a sum of £60m, adjusted for inflation, would keep Lancashire’s museums open for nearly the next half century.” Museums Journal, Rossendale Free Press, Guardian