Save Lancashire’s Museums

I don’t often deviate from the subject of beauty on my blog but one of my huge passions is the Arts, heritage and education so when I heard the Lancashire County Council plan on making massive budget cuts, which include the closure of dozens of local libraries and completely pulling the funding of five museums in the area, I was livid and wanted to put my view forward. I do hope my regular readers aren’t put off by my off-topic, bit of a rant, but here goes.

The LCC proposes slashing Lancashire’s Cultural Services budget from £1.2 million to £98,000 by 2017 – to put that in perspective that’s less than the average house price here in the UK and that is expected to be shared amongst the area’s museums for their upkeep – and the council’s ‘helpful’ suggestion is that the ‘at risk’ museums be taken over by volunteers or community groups. Now I’m a volunteer and I believe it plays a vital role in society, but I do not think sole responsibility for the running of these important buildings should be given over completely to a group of unpaid volunteers, who whilst enthusiastic will for the large part lack the indepth knowledge and expertise required. Besides our museums already benefit from dozens of volunteers as it is, so to demand more is a downright cheek. Is the MPs role voluntary? Perhaps it should be, that would save a few million.

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But seriously, do the LCC not recognise the valuable role our museums play in heritage and education? One of the victims of this cull, the Queen Street Mill in Burnley (pictured), is already the last surviving fully operational steam powered mill in the world, and when that goes all that knowledge will be consigned to the history books. I believe children learn through best tangible experiences, from sights and sounds and getting hands on, and as a mum I don’t want my daughter’s only experience of the past to be through text books and computer programs.

If you’ve ever watched the film The Kings Speech or saw the recent BBC adaptation of An Inspector Calls, the Queen Street Mill interior was used for the filming. People have invested many years’ worth of time and money in the upkeep of this mill, long after the last cloth was produced here in Burnley, and it could all come to an abrupt end in the name of Austerity. I feel this move is short-sighted. I know the LCC faces an unenviable task in deciding where to make cuts, and that it is central Government that has forced them to find the savings, but I just hope they have considered the wider implications to the local community and economy and not just chosen the museums as an easy target. Once these cuts are made, it will be very hard to go back.

The full list of museums facing cuts is as follows:

Queen Street Mill, Burnley (support the petition to save Queen Street Mill here)
Fleetwood Museum, Fleetwood
Museum of Lancashire, Preston
Helmshore Mill Textile Museum, Rossendale
Judges’ Lodgings, Lancaster (you can support the campaign to save the Judges’ Lodgings by signing the online petition)

If you feel as I do please do pledge your support, lobby your local MP or get vocal on Twitter. And if you’re not from Lancashire this could well be happening in your area, so make sure you keep your eye on the news and show those with the power that you care for your local services before they’re lost for good.


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5 thoughts on “Save Lancashire’s Museums

  1. sriches says:

    Shame about the Helmshore Textile Museum, just up the road from me! In all fairness though Bury Council cuts are even worse than Lancashire. We’ve had 3 weekly bin collections for over a year now and still it’s not good enough. Don’t even get me started on the fact they sold an original Lowry! 😠

    • Helen says:

      I couldn’t comment on Bury’s cuts but my post only touches on a small proportion of Lancashire’s. I know there is a need to tighten our belts but I don’t see much tightening at Westminster where MPs have just accepted a payrise and the PM and his cabinet are getting their own plane at a cost of £10m!

      • sriches says:

        Ahhh yes, I’ve heard about the plane! So long as they get their caviar and champers, in total comfort…. they don’t care about the rest of us who actually put the money into the economy and work out arses off! This is me sober by the way! 😉

  2. John Gray says:

    Libraries and museums to close, the Countryside Service and the Archaeology service to be terminated, staff made redundant, expertise lost, resources squandered. What are the users of these services expected to do now?  What will happen to the resources they are currently able to offer for public use? It seems to me that the battles about the major services – Education, Social Services, Highways, Transport etc – are fought out in the open, following well publicised arguments, but the patchwork of small services that make up our cultural landscape are being quietly abandoned as local authorities are starved of the resources to keep them running. How can this be possible?  Our heritage and our countryside are valuable resources, which need the protection and management that only a public body can give them.
     
    I think it is a deliberate tactic to drive these services into the private sector arena where ‘market forces’ will pick off the profit making elements. Tories can’t stand for something to be provided for free when there is an opportunity for someone to make a profit out of it. And it doesn’t seem to matter any longer whether it is even someone from this country. Do these people have no shame? No pride in their own heritage? How does this devastation benefit the people of Lancashire? Did people really vote for this?

    Heritage and culture are important, and should not be discarded easily. If you do not agree with these measures, make your voice heard. Write to your County Councillor and your MP, make your feelings known. These people are elected to represent us.

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