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Decision day is looming for Museum Trust

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Herne Bay Museum exhibitions cover a broad tapestry

Are the people of Herne Bay able to run their own museum?

What might have seemed a protracted process to many will be resolved this spring when Canterbury City Council passes over control of the museum to an external organisation on April 1st. The move has not been supported by everyone in the town, but the change is nevertheless about to become a reality.

One group that has put in a bid to run the site is a collaboration between The Friends of Herne Bay Museum and the Herne Bay Historical Records Society, which want to run the site as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) known as The Herne Bay Museum Trust – it should find out whether it has been successful next month.

Financing the museum project – for whoever runs it – has been helped by the award of a £77,000 grant to the council, with allocations of £15,000 for the two coastal museums towards renovation. David Cross, secretary of the Friends of the Herne Bay Museum, is one of the main people driving the project forward and accepts that change is inevitable for the attraction in William Street.

“It’s not a new thing – it’s being done all over the country. Canterbury, though, seems to want to do it quicker than most. After an awful lot of meetings between the Friends, the Herne Bay Historical Records Society and the Council, we’ve called in anyone who might be interested in the helping out with the museum. The calibre of people coming forward has been very high and there is a lot of experience on board.”

The trust, which comprises seven trustees (its chairman is Ian Tittley) is overseeing a remodelling of the museum as well as attracting the good folk of Herne Bay to offer their services. Mr Cross said:

“On that front it’s looking very good. Our job is to collect as many volunteers as possible. The Council owns the property and would, if we were successful, pay us a grant to run it. The Friends would be responsible for membership and the trust would run it.”

The agreement has to be a grant rather than a contract, otherwise the trust could not run as a charity, which is desirable if administration costs are to be kept under control. Membership secretary at the Friends is Phil Rose, who said:

“Our mantra is: a lot of people doing a little bit, not a few people doing a lot. In practical terms, this translates into people committing to a half-day a month. No specialist skills are required, but any relevant skills will be warmly welcomed! Any necessary training – using the till, for example – will be provided.”

Assuming all goes well for the trust and its bid is accepted, what is its ultimate aim? Over to Mr Cross:

“We would hope to get to the point where the museum is open all year – that has been our position right from the start. Herne Bay can not afford to lose any more visitors.”

If you would like to get involved in the Trust’s bid to run Herne Bay Museum, email Phil Rose at hernebaymatters@gmail.com

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