Information from the Leicester Mercury about proposed cuts to or closure of the Jewry Wall Museum.
Cuts to Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester
AXE TO FALL ON MUSEUMS AND ART BY MEL ATKINSON16:30 - 23 January 2004
Museums could be shut one day a week and part of one venue could be turned into a storeroom if cuts to the council budget go ahead.Museums: May be shut one day per week. The council said many other local authorities operated museum services this way, to reduce costs without having a major impact on visitor numbers. The city council is looking to make £950,000 savings this year from its leisure budget, which includes museums and sports centres.The proposals are part of an overall budget plan that would see £4million in cuts and an increase in council tax of 14 per cent.Leisure cutbacks could include:Many artefacts are stored at a former kitchen block in Humberstone Drive.The council is planning to convert most of the galleries into storage facilities.The team responsible for finding lottery cash to fund art works including the Humberstone roundabout cones and the Belgrave Road lotus flowers would cease work, except for making repairs to existing artwork.The remains of the Roman baths would stay open to the public, as they are outdoors.However, the associated museum of Roman artefacts beside Vaughan College could be closed, have reduced opening times or have its exhibits moved to the nearby Newarke Houses Museum.Roger Caunt, vice-chairman of the Leicester Museums Technology Association - a volunteer support group - expressed concern about the plans.He said: "Closing museums once a week will drive down visitor numbers when we should be increasing them."At Abbey Pumping Station, the council is trying to save £100,000 by turning all the galleries except the pump room into museum storage, but if that drives down the number of visitors, it's not a saving."The council's leisure spokesman, Councillor John Mugglestone, said: "I'm not happy about any of this but we have got to be realistic."We can't have museums open all week and we need better storage for our collections."At Jewry Wall, we have more curators than visitors, so we may move exhibits to The Newarke."It may be a reduced service, but it will be a better service eventually."Councillors will discuss the cuts at the meeting of the leisure scrutiny committee, next Wednesday.
ATTACK ON HERITAGE 10:30 - 31 January 2004
Thank you for so clearly highlighting the threat to the city's museums, which were once the pride of the city and were rightly regarded as one of the finest services in the country.It is a disgrace that Abbey Pumping Station, Jewry Wall Museum and Belgrave Hall are all under threat. I am amazed at Councillor Mugglestone's comment that Jewry Wall has more curators than visitors. He has clearly no knowledge of this fine museum.There is one curator and over 27,000 visitors per year. I think that someone with such a poor grasp of mathematics should not be involved in the setting of city council budgets.Jewry Wall Museum has collections of national importance that could not in their entirety be fitted into another museum.These proposals would lead to the citizens of Leicester being denied proper access to the culture and history of the city.If Jewry Wall Museum closes to the public, the people of Leicester will be able to see the archaeology of Egypt at New Walk Museum, but not the archaeology of Leicester.As a voter, I hope that the city council will rethink these proposals.I certainly do not remember in the Liberal Democrat election material any proposal to wreck the museum service in Leicester, but this is what they are about to do.Claire Hill, Leicester.