Brighton History Centre saved from cutbacks

Posted On 14 Jan 2010 at 9:59 pm

A huge campaign to save the Brighton History Centre has succeeded.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tory administration announced the u-turn this afternoon at a cabinet meeting.

This followed a petition on the council’s website opposing the plans, signed by more than 1200 people, a Facebook protest group and several blog posts denoucing the proposals.

A council press release follows:

Leading councillors have rejected proposals to move the Brighton History Centre and reduce opening hours at the city’s natural history museum.

The moves were included among £660,000 of savings for next year from the council’s culture department. About £100,000 would have been saved by the changes.

However council leader Mary Mears has now ordered that money is diverted from any discretionary spending, such as advertising budgets, to keep the facilities operating as they are.

Under the original proposals, main resources at the History Centre, in the museum building in Church Street, would have moved to Jubilee Library.  They would then shift to Falmer when a new historical resources centre called The Keep opens there.

The Booth Museum of Natural History in Dyke Road was to have had its opening times cut from five and a half days to three and a half.

Councillor Mears said:  “Since this was proposed the level of affection for these services has become very obvious, so I’ve taken the decision to redirect some of our discretionary spending towards keeping these centres open.  We are faced with a tough financial situation so we’ve got to ensure that we are using public money wisely.

“I envisage keeping the History Centre where it is until The Keep opens.

“This decision demonstrates that the council takes these issues very seriously, that we listen carefully and then implement policies designed to reflect public opinion.  Nobody at the council wants to reduce any services.  But lack of government funding is forcing us into these difficult choices.”

Councillor Mears also proposes to set up an independent commission to look into the future of the city’s museums.

Councillor Mears said: “An independent commission will work with the city council to look at how the city’s museums can be funded and managed into the future. We face increasing pressure every year to find workable solutions, so the best thing to do is involve some of the city’s experts to help shape the future of our museums.”

An announcement was made today at the council’s cabinet meeting.

Over 1100 people have signed an e-petition against the History Centre move on the council’s website.

Officials stress the council will still press ahead with enhancing local and family history provision at Jubilee Library, by providing access to online and microform resources, plus additional books.  Resources at the library also have the advantage of seven day opening.

Meanwhile the authority is seeking volunteers to join a Local and Family history support group which can work with staff to develop services, including provision at the History Centre, Jubilee Library and the emerging Keep records office.

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