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Rossendale museum could close within weeks
2:46pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
ROSSENDALE Museum is to close at the end of the month - unless an 11th hour deal can be struck to save it.
A management agreement between Rossendale Council and Lancashire County Council expires on March 31, and no alternative provider has been found to run the Rawtenstall site.
The Whitaker Park museum currently opens to the public for 17.5 hours per week, and is managed by LCC’s museum service with an annual budget of £106,930.
Rossendale Council leader Alyson Barnes said that while discussions with the county council had failed, talks were ongoing with the Friends of Rossendale Museum and another unnamed organisation to keep the museum open.
Coun Barnes said: “The county council was not at all helpful, or flexible, during our negotiations over the last few months. We discussed agreeing a new three or six-month contract and they weren’t prepared to look at their costs.
“You would think they would understand better than most the impact of funding cuts on local authorities.
“It has always been our position that we don’t want to see the museum close, and I’m confident we’ll find a long-term conclusion. The county council may have to hand the keys back, but what we do with it is up to us.”
The museum’s three full-time staff will be re-assigned to other areas.
Officers from Rossendale Council and Ronald Howell, from the Friends of Rossendale Museum, were involved in a meeting yesterday afternoon regarding the museum’s future.
County council leader Geoff Driver said: “We're very disappointed with the borough’s decision to close this much-loved museum in Whitaker Park, although we recognise they are under significant financial pressure and must set their own priorities.
“Sadly, the matter is out of our hands and our first concern now must be to look to the future of our staff. I’m pleased to say we have already taken steps to find alternative jobs for all of them.”
LCC has managed Rossendale Museum on behalf of the borough council since 2004.
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