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Museum earmarked to be closed in shake-up

aHerne Bay is set to lose its museum as part of the £3.5m budget shakeup planned by the city council for the next two financial years.

The William Street building will be converted into a “community and education space” with exhibits moved to other museums in the district. Canterbury City Council chiefs have planned the building’s reuse plus the closure of two museums in Canterbury as part of efforts to save the authority £3.5m between next April and March 2012.

On Friday, the council published its draft budget for 2010/11 which contains details of the restructuring of museum services which will save it £112,600 of the total figure. Better news for Herne Bay includes the retention of the council’s divisional office in William Street. Whitstable is losing its office. And while there will be reduced funding for town centre events across the district, one event which will not suffer is the Herne Bay Classic Car Show, Colin Carmichael, the chief executive of Canterbury City Council, said:

Cokin Carmichael: ‘Herne Bay not the poor relation’
Colin Carmichael: ‘Herne Bay not the poor relation’

“The draft budget proposals affect all areas of the district so Herne Bay is not being specifically targeted. In fact, projects such as the new sports facilities in the town and ongoing regeneration work show that the council is putting plenty of resources into the town and so the suggestion that it is the poor relation of the district is myth.”

The Conservative council is also proposing to charge drivers to park on Herne Bay sea-front to generate cash. However, Lib Dem councillor Ron Flaherty is incensed by the idea of new charges. He said:

“What I find ironic here is that it was Tories who were in opposition a few years ago who railed against an idea to start charging on along the seafront. Now we find them pushing it through with their draft budget. People who live on the sea-front are going to end up having to pay to park or simply park their cars in other parts of the town where it is free.”

Cllr John GIlbey: ‘Aim to protect frontline services’
Cllr John Gilbey: ‘Aim to protect frontline services’

Tories’ aim

The authority has been forced into this position – which includes cutting 52 jobs – because of a drop in income, especially from parking and planning charges. It is also expecting less cash from the Government, whichever political party is in control. John Gilbey, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said:

“Our aim has been to protect the frontline services that people tell us they value most and maintain funding for the things we are required to do by law. This has meant we have had to look for most of the savings from the discretionary services that we choose to fund.”

The plans form part of a consultation document. People have until Friday, December 18 to comment. Copies are available on http://www.canterbury.gov.uk/ or in council offices.

Herne Bay Gazette, November 5th 2009

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