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Council bosses to consider community bid to run museums

Museum-001Community campaigners will set out their arguments for taking over Herne Bay and Whitstable museums next week.

The Friends of Herne Bay Museum and Whitstable Chamber of Commerce have both submitted formal expressions of interest to run the museums in each town under national ‘community right to challenge’ legislation introduced by the Localism Act.

Both groups worked with council officials to plan their applications and they will be considered by members of the ruling executive committee on Thursday.

The Friends of Herne Bay Museum propose to manage the museum in partnership with Herne Bay Historical Records Society (HBHRS). They would use volunteers to run it when it is open, to display and interpret the collections owned by the city council and the HBHRS, to stage temporary exhibitions and events and to inform and educate the public and schools about the history of Herne Bay and its community.

The Whitstable District Chamber of Commerce proposes to form a consortium with Whitstable Improvement Trust, Whitstable Society, Whitstable Historical Society, Friends of Whitstable Museum and Gallery and the Favourite Trust to oversee the management of the museum.

Their main aims will be to extend the opening hours, provide additional services including more facilities for family research and to revitalise the current display of exhibits. A report to the meeting on Thursday says:

It is the view of officers that both Expressions of Interest substantially meet all the criteria set down in the Government’s guidance. They both have the financial resources to operate the museums; there are proper governance arrangements in place; they have a viable plan to manage and improve services; they have consulted with local community groups and residents and many of their ideas reflect this feedback; and they have demonstrated (prior to any formal procurement exercise) they can run the museums on value for money principles.

If councillors agree there would then be a formal procurement exercise and the museums could be run by the groups from April next year. At the moment, both museums are only open seasonally after councillors decided to cut costs. The meeting is open to the public and starts at 6.30pm on Thursday 3rd July in the Guildhall, Canterbury.

HB Times 27th June 2014

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