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Ilkley's Manor House Museum could be boarded up
8:39am Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
A much-loved Ilkley museum and art gallery could be boarded up or put into commercial use under Bradford Council cutbacks.
Senior Council officers this week met with councillors and representatives of community organisations over plans to transfer the Manor House Museum to community management.
They were told the grade I-listed building could be ‘mothballed’ if no proposals were put forward for the future of the museum, on Castle Yard.
And alternative commercial uses, such an arts centre, weddings venue, restaurant or cafe were discussed – working within the rules on the preservation of heritage buildings.
The Council’s assistant director of culture and tourism Tony Stephens and museums manager Maggie Pedley spoke at the meeting on Monday.
The Friends of the Manor House, established 50 years ago to support the museum, says volunteers may be able to help out in the museum on a limited basis, but stressed it cannot take on the full management of the Manor House.
The charity said it was “unfair” for the Ilkley museum to bear the brunt of Bradford’s cuts.
In its budget proposals, the Council plans to make Regeneration and Culture savings totalling £5.4 million over two years. It would reduce the number of museums it delivers services at from five to four.
But the Friends group is calling for savings to be spread evenly – and says professional staff are still needed.
A statement produced by the group said: “The museum is dependent on Bradford’s services for exhibitions, school visits, management, maintenance and above all accreditation as a museum able to receive Bradford collections.
“The sheer range of what a community management group would have to pick up and fund is too much.
“If it survived, there would be a reduction in quality. If it didn’t, what would happen to the Manor House then? We need to remain within Bradford’s service for all that it provides that we could not.”
The Friends urged its members to comment on the budget proposals.
Ward councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) described this week’s debate about the Manor House’s future as “the start of the process”.
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