Museum ‘is not sustainable’ alarm

Buckinghamshire County Museum
Buckinghamshire County Museum

PUBLIC cash could be slashed from Aylesbury’s County Museum in a bid to save more than £500,000 a year.

On Monday, bosses at Bucks County Council backed plans to hand control of the Church Street museum to a new charitable trust.

Members of County Hall’s cabinet heard the move was a ‘difficult decision’, but leaders were told it should see the museum’s future secured.

The council has said the museum is ‘not sustainable’ in the long term.

Also set to be handed over to the new trust – which has yet to be formed – is the Museum Resource Centre in Halton.

Paula Buck, head of culture and learning, told cabinet members that four potential trustees had been identified, and the search was on to find more.

She said: “It’s not been an easy decision because the figures were close, but it does give us the best opportunity to dip into heritage funding.”

At the moment, the county council ploughs £520,000 a year into running the museums.

In the next three years, it plans to reduce this to £400,000 a year.

The County Museum is owned by Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society, which leases the buildings to Bucks County Council.

County Hall owns the resource centre in Halton.

Councillor Patricia Birchley described the move as a ‘difficult decision’, but said: “We’ve had great support, and there are people who are really keen to make it a success.

“It’s been quite moving how people have been willing to give of their time.”

And she continued: “Not many local authorities have a museum of the calibre that we’re fortunate enough to have in Aylesbury.”

Councillor Peter Cartwright said he was pleased that the council was not being forced to close the museum, stating: “Closing the museum would be a great shame, because our heritage means a lot.”

And Councillor Margaret Aston said: “I think this will help maintain the future of the museum, as we’ll be able to attract funding we haven’t been able to attract.”

The county council considered trust status after work commissioned by the Museum Friends to look at alternative business models, and to see what would be involved in a trust.