Scores protest at plans to close Brighton History Centre

Posted On 31 Dec 2009 at 4:16 pm

A campaign to save Brighton’s History Centre is gathering pace.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tory administration has proposed closing the centre and moving it to the Jubilee Library to save £62,000.

But more than 150 people have signed a petition on the council’s own website opposing the plans and a Facebook protest group has also been created.

Since the plans were first reported, the Brighton Bits blog has taken up the cause, lately garnering support from English Heritage.

It says: “Irrespective of where the archived material ends up, the only way that money will be saved will be by losing the present staff and therefore their years of accumulated expertise in the local and family history fields.

“The council needs to be made aware that the History Centre IS the staff.”

And the My Brighton and Hove website has also expressed dismay at the plans.

In an emailed response to the Brighton Bits blog, Brighton and Hove City Council’s culture chief David Smith said: “The accessibility will be improved with an increase in opening hours for customers from 35 hours a week in Brighton History Centre to 54 hours a week in Jubilee Library.

“The majority of use of the Brighton History Centre is for use of online resources or microfilm and fiche resources (family history researchers), and these can be provided in Jubilee Library, together with some of the book stock.

“The service as it is currently run is only used by a limited group of people and those figures are in decline. The History Centre is unfortunately not attracting new users or younger users and the number of visits has dropped by nearly 14,000 in the last five years.

“We are keen to improve services and particularly to improve access. It is also important to note that we do have additional good local history resources in all of our libraries and also in Brighton and Hove museums and galleries.”

A final decision on the plans, which form part of wide-ranging proposals to cut £8 million from the annual council budget, will be made at a full council meeting next year.

The History Centre houses reference materials including newspapers, books, photographs and maps, as well as family history research material including electoral rolls, passengers lists and military material. You can find out more here.

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