Headteacher’s alternative plan to deal with government cuts

ARCHIVES: Could the strong room at Lancashire archives hold an alternative to cuts?
ARCHIVES: Could the strong room at Lancashire archives hold an alternative to cuts?
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A retired Lancashire headmaster, horrified that some 40 libraries and at least five museums could be closed due to lack of funds, is calling on the county council to sell off some of its most precious, but unseen archives.

His copy and flog it lesson in economics came as the county council prepares to consider closing some 40 libraries and withdrawing funding from five of its museums as part of £65m cuts.

Rather than close our libraries and museums, why does Lancashire County Council not sell assets such as this and others, especially ones nobody ever sees or knows about?

But Stephen Price of Forton, a former Garstang headmaster, says the often overlooked “amazing” documents in the county archives, such as one about the American civil war, could raise possibly millions of pounds to fund threatened services.

He said the suggestion as prompted by a recent lecture in Lancaster City Museum on 74 treasures from the archives: “One we were told was worth $6,000,000 (£4m)in the American market.

“Rather than close our libraries and museums, why does Lancashire County Council not sell assets such as this and others, especially ones nobody ever sees or knows about?

“They can always keep a copy for reference. Could we not give the LCC archives and museum service an opportunity to sell high value pieces that whilst amazing in their own right, nobody ever sees and we cannot afford. ”

But County Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “We are grateful for any suggestions as to how we can keep the museums open but I’m afraid that simply selling off collections would not help their long-term sustainability.

“Our collections are extremely varied and have been acquired in different ways, which means they are not items that you could simply just put up for sale. And of course an item in a collection can only be sold once, while we have to reduce our running costs to make savings year on year.

“We will be consulting widely on this proposal and we are happy to talk to organisations who may have ideas for different ways to run the museums.”

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