Herefordshire County Council had originally proposed ‘a 75% cut to the county’s library service and a 100% cut to the museum service‘. Then the services and the community organised.
That would have forced the closure (or the voluntarisation of the entire workforces of) Hereford Museum and Art Gallery; the Old House, Hereford; the Museum Resource and Learning Centre, Hereford; Market House Visitor Centre, Ross-on-Wye; Ledbury Heritage Centre; and the (mobile) Museum on the Move. (All of the museums are also historic buildings, apart from the resource and learning centre, which is a state-of-the-art archive.)
John Perkins launched a petition to save Herefordshire’s libraries and museums (which included a neat run-through of the value of libraries):
Calling on Herefordshire Council to reconsider cutting Herefordshire’s library and museum budget, reducing opening hours and replacing staff with volunteers. Volunteer run libraries can not provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it, as required by the Public Libraries and Museum’s Act….
Volunteers can assist, but not run libraries or museums. For example it requires 18 volunteers to keep Peterchurch Library open for 10 hours per week.
We apparently have three Turner paintings in the county … do you think these paintings that belong to us the people should be sold off into the hands of private enterprise? We don’t!
Today, Perkins e-mailed campaigners with truly great news:
We’ve put a halt on Herefordshire Council’s plans to close our libraries. On Friday the council held an ‘extraordinary meeting’ and was left with no choice but to put its proposals to slash library and museum funding from this year’s budget on hold.
More than 5% of the county’s voters petitioned their council not to cut the library budget and butcher the library budget, so they have the honour of being ‘the first group to successfully trigger a council debate [on the cuts] using a petition’.
Now, we need to make sure they don’t sneak in these cuts by the back door by slashing opening hours, replacing library staff with volunteers or selling off the museum collection to private buyers….
[Originally posted on conflict antiquities]