Monthly Archives: July 2014

Transfer to a trust agreed

Cambridgeshire County Council is moving forwards with its plans to transfer the Cromwell Museum to an independent charitable trust. The relevant committee agreed on the 15th July to;

a) the creation of an independent charitable Trust to take over the running of the museum;

b) leasing the museum building to the new Trust for 25 years on an internal repairing lease at less than best consideration, subject to approval by General Purposes Committee;

c) leasing museum storage and office facilities in Huntingdon Library and Archives to the new Trust for 5 years at less than best consideration, subject to approval by General Purposes Committee;

d) the Council bearing the cost of any staff redundancies arising as a result of the transfer of undertakings;

e) using the Cromwell Museum Art Fund to help fund the establishment of the new Trust;

f) the Council retaining ownership of its assets within the museum collections.

Despite a submission from the Friends of the Museum there was little debate of significance and no proper discussion of the resources required.

On the 24th July the Museum Management Committee, where the Friends are directly represented, met to receive an update on the decision and the process. What was made very clear was that the Council will not commit any resource, other than the meagre amount left in the Museum’s reserve budget, towards assisting a successful transfer to a trust.

The Friends are seriously concerned that the sum available will be further depleted as the authority draws on that money to meet its own costs in setting up the trust.

The recommendation of the independent consultant’s report that the Council should provide £20,000 of tapering funding over the first three years of the trust’s existence will, as a consequence, be jeopardised.

The Friends are not opposed to devolution to a trust but believe that if it is to be achieved successfully sufficient resources must be made available in the short term. The lobby to ensure more appropriate funding will continue in the hope that the folly of trying to set up a trust with very little support will be recognised.

Link

The future governance of the Cromwell Museum is to be discussed by Cambridgeshire County Council on Tuesday 15th July. The papers are on the council’s web site, see http://www2.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CommitteeMinutes/Committees/AgendaItem.aspx?agendaItemID=10025

The apparent reasonableness of the recommendations, in progressing the recommendations of the external consultant, masks some serious issues.

The report proposes that additional tapering funding, equivalent to the remaining balance in the Museum’s Art Fund, is the only extra funding to be made available to support the transfer of the Museum from the county to a new independent trust. The sum available is less than £16,000, the Fund having been raided to the tune of £50,000 earlier in the year, to support other parts of the council’s services.

The Save the Cromwell Museum campaign is seriously concerned that if a transfer is to be successful then funding at least at the current level is needed for a minimum of five years. Nearly 4,000 Cambridgeshire residents agreed with that view when they signed the petition to support the museum in January and February.

The meeting of the Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee will be the first time that elected members will have had the opportunity to properly consider the Museum’s future. Although it is not on the table perhaps they should be asking the fundamental question of whether devolution to a trust is the right answer. If it is the right answer then more resources are needed to give the new trust a reasonable chance of success.

If you are concerned about the future of the Museum please email the committee chairman, and your local county councillor if you live in Cambridgeshire, and make your views known. The chairman can be contacted at roger.hickford@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Important meeting coming up

Cambridgeshire County Council reverted to a committee system of government in May this year. The new Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to discuss the future of the Cromwell Museum at their next meeting, to be held on Tuesday July 15th.

The papers for the committee should be published on the County Council website seven days before the meeting.

The Save the Cromwell Museum Campaign will post a response to the proposals on Thursday July 10th and, if appropriate, advise and encourage supporters of how to make their views known.