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Bradford Council could drop Ilkley's historic building and museum
The future of one of Ilkley’s most important public buildings looks in doubt after Bradford Council admitted sweeping cuts have to be made.
Talks have begun in earnest about the future of the historic Manor House Museum, amid the Council’s aims to cut museum services from five to four sites, with the Manor House Museum in Ilkley transferring to community manage- ment.
But chairman of support group Friends of the Manor House, John Cockshott, expressed concern over the situation and said the charity was not legally constituted to take over the running of the museum.
He said: “To run the Manor House through a community group is only possible if the proposal is financially viable and a group comes forward.”
Independent Ilkley ward councillor Anne Hawkesworth is already in talks with Council officers. She said: “Any trust, community or charity has to be set up to succeed or it won’t.
“Such schemes need income generation possibilities or it won’t work. No one is going to take responsibility for a liability.
‘“In an ideal world there would be a wider cultural trust set up which would have possibilities on a commercial basis.”
Draft Council budget proposals unveiled this week reveal the local authority is planning to scale back museum services as part of sweeping cuts aimed at saving £89 million over the next two years.
The Council’s support for festivals will also be phased out from 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, although it would help organisers look for other sources of funding.
The controlling Labour group would close all its public toilets, except those in high traffic tourist areas, which include Brook Street, Ilkley.
The proposals are due to go before Bradford Council’s Executive on Tuesday, as public consultation continues. The final budget will go before the Full Council on February 20.
The Friends’ committee will now meet the head of Bradford Museums service, Maggie Pedley, to learn more about the Council’s proposals and Mr Cockshott said he hoped an agreement could be reached allowing the Manor House to retain its role in the community and continue to be a visitor attraction.
He added: “A community can be gauged by the way it treats its heritage. The Manor House is the heart of Ilkley’s history and culture. Testimony to this can be seen in this year’s decisions to hold at the Manor House the Europa Nostra award ceremony and the exhibition for the 40th anniversary of Ilkley Literature Festival. The Manor House was given to Ilkley by Percy Dalton in 1961 – we celebrated the 50th anniversary of this in 2011.”
The building itself stands on part of the site of Ilkley’s Roman fort. The oldest section dates back to the 14th Century, but much of the house is 17th Century.
In a statement on the draft budget proposals, the Council’s Labour leader, Councillor David Green, said the Council had already saved millions of pounds on the authority’s management and administration costs, communications, and building costs. But he said these measures alone were “insufficient” given the scale of the funding gap.
He said: “We are now at the stage where further cuts to front-line services are inevitable however unpalatable that may be. To pretend otherwise would be to mislead.”
The loss of 700 jobs and Council Tax rises of 1.6 per cent per year have also been proposed.
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