A campaign to bring the town’s museum under voluntary control is set to take a step forward today (Thursday, 3rd July).
Canterbury City Council’s executive is expected to agree to allow the Friends of Herne Bay Museum group to express its interest in running the building in William Street. Legislation under the Localism Act allows community groups to bid to run council services if they believe it can save money and improve standards.
Group secretary David Cross put forward the application alongside the Historical Records Society (HBHRS) after the opening hours of the museum were dramatically cut by the council to save money. He says the response from volunteers means they are going from strength to strength.
“It’s a positive step for the town because all over the country museums are being taken over by trusts as councils’ funding gets lower and lower. The benefit of the trust is that it can be supported by the local authority, while also being able to approach other groups for funding too. Hopefully, it means we can produce a better museum which is more in tune with the local community.”
Last year the council agreed plans to cut the museum’s opening hours to the summer months and to half-terms during the winter. The interest from the museum group and HBHRS could see the opening hours extended and the building being opened for new exhibitions all year round. A report by council officers to the executive councillors states:
“It is the view of officers that the expression of interest meets all the criteria set down in the government’s guidance around the Community Right to Challenge. It has the financial resources to operate the museum, there are proper governance arrangements in place, they have a viable plan to manage and improve services and they have demonstrated they can run the museums on value for money principles.”
If the councillors vote to accept the expression of interest, then the service will be offered out to tender, with other bidders able to submit alternative plans about how to run the service.
Herne Bay Gazette, July 3rd 2014