NEWS: Lancashire Museums Last Chance

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Earlier this year Lancashire County Council (LCC) announced a call out to interested third parties seeking to submit detail business plans to take over any of the five museums they could no longer afford to run. The decision was taken following budget cuts which meant the LCC could no longer afford to fund the museums. Its  financial strategy report, published towards the end of last year, concluded that over the five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21 the council needed to make savings of £262m on top of those previously agreed.

Numerous potentially viable business plans were received for the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster, the Maritime Museum in Fleetwood, the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale.   Plans from four organisations which have applied to take over the five museums were most recently discussed at a cabinet meeting on 8 September. , the meeting decided which of the museums will be transferred to third parties.

Although very little detail was announced following the meeting, the LCC did confirm that all five museums would close to the public on 30 September 2016, while negotiations continue with the four organisations. It is expected that the approved transfers will be made by the end of December this year. Councillor Marcus Johnstone, the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, explained:

“This is extremely good news for the future of these museums. There is obviously still a lot of work to do but it is very encouraging to see such robust and well-thought-through business plans.  In an ideal world we would not have been forced into this position but as we no longer have the funding to keep these cultural resources open we can at least do a thorough job to ensure that they have a sustainable future.”

With proper care and maintenance plans having been put in place to ensure each of the venues in question are looked after, preserved properly, and kept safe and secure, the intention is that negotiations can be concluded as soon as possible with a view to the transfers being made by 31 December 2016.

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