Wednesday, 4 May 2011

News - Parties agreed that private sector must help out with city's heritage offering (Nottingham)

THERE are not many subjects that the three main parties at Nottingham City Council agree on.
But the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem leaders all believe that culture and heritage cannot be a priority at a time of unprecedented cuts.

This year, the Labour-led council unveiled plans to reduce opening hours at Newstead Abbey, the Brewhouse Yard Museum and Green's Windmill and Science Centre, in Sneinton.

And none of the three main parties have committed to protecting the city's museums and heritage in their manifestos.

Deputy leader of the Labour group, Councillor Graham Chapman said: "It's very difficult to give commitments when you face £60 million of cuts this year, £25 million next year and £30 million the following year.

"We're still trying to talk to the private sector about Robin Hood and we're looking at options for Newstead to keep it open and make it more sustainable.

"The reality of it is when we're facing cuts to children's services, adult service and the most vulnerable in the community, we're going to have to rely on the private sector to play more of a role with heritage."

But the city has already seen a demise of its museums and heritage in recent years.

The council stopped running the Nottingham Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall in September 2009 – it is now only open on the last Sunday of every month, run by volunteers at the Arkwright Society.

The Lace Centre, which was in the historic Severns building near Nottingham Castle, shut its doors in April 2009.
And the Museum of Costume and Textiles in Castle Gate closed in 2002 while Tales of Robin Hood closed in 2009.

City Tory leader Councillor Andrew Price, said volunteers and businesses had to play a larger role in preserving the city's heritage.

"A lot of the retired members of Rolls-Royce in Hucknall help run the museum up there," he said.

"It's a combination of using our money but also encouraging the role of volunteers, it's going to be essential in the future.

"The other thing I would explore is if we can get any sponsorship [from local businesses].

"I don't think you need mega bucks – a few thousand pounds would go a long way to train volunteers."

And Liberal Democrat party leader Councillor Gary Long added: "While it's a good thing to have all these things, at a time when we've got a shortage of money then cutting down of opening hours has to be compared against social services, the elderly, education.

"But also against some of the things the council does, like excessive communications, spin and banners.

"We can't have a guarantee that no museum will have its opening hours reduced but none the less, there are things the council could be cutting before they get around to doing that."

While the party manifestos make no pledges to protect museums and city heritage, Labour does promise to deliver international sporting events including tennis, triathlon, international cricket and football matches, which continues to put Nottingham on the map.

The city has also seen some new additions to its cultural menu including the Nottingham Contemporary and the New Arts Exchange.

Richard Mallender, leader of Nottingham Green Party, said the city's attractions must be kept in "public ownership" despite the cuts.

He said he was disappointed to see opening hours reduced.

"I think it is a real shame that they are doing that," said Mr Mallender.

And Irenea Marriott, chairman of UKIP Nottingham District branch, said: "It's important for educational purposes to keep these places open."

The Post reported earlier this year that a deal had been struck to save the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre at Durban House. Run by Broxtowe Borough Council, it has been under threat for a couple of years but now money from the University of Nottingham will keep it open for at least two years.

No comments:

Post a Comment