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.