The campaign to save Ilkley’s Manor House Museum and Art Gallery are being stepped up with a petition calling on Bradford Council to spare the service.
With just three weeks remaining until Bradford Council meets to finalise its cost-cutting budgets for the next two years, supporters of the Manor House are taking to the streets with a petition.
They want to show the strength of feeling in the community for keeping the Manor House open, as a community and arts venue, local heritage centre, visitor attraction and educational asset for local schools.
As part of money-saving cutbacks in many departments, Bradford Council wants to transfer the Manor House to community management as early as April.
But no organisation has come forward to take it over, and museum supporters fear it is unrealistic to find an alternative management system in time – which could result in the museum being mothballed.
Although established support group the Friends of the Manor House has been involved in talks over the museum’s future, it is unable to take on full responsibility for management itself.
So far, 22 people have offered to work as volunteers assisting Bradford Council staff if the council continues to provide management and some staff.
It has also been revealed the museum could win a temporary stay of execution until the end of June.
However, this would be with reduced operation and help from volunteers. The Council says this is to give the community more time to formulate long-term plans.
The Council’s ruling Executive is due to study public consultation feedback at its meeting on Tuesday. The Executive is to present its final budget proposals to the full council on February 20.
Museum supporter, Liz Bowen, plans to be out on central shopping street The Grove on Saturday between 10am and 4pm collecting signatures on a petition calling for the Council to reverse its propose budgetary decision for the Manor House.
She believes the petition will allow more residents – including those who do not regularly use a computer – to have their say on the future of the museum.
She said: “In setting this up as a hard copy petition I have made a conscious decision to target people who would find a street petition easy and immediate. This will include people who do not use computers but would still like to be involved.”
She would welcome help collecting signatures.
Those already behind the bid to keep Council museum services fear the building and garden could deteriorate if it is closed, significant local artefacts could be taken from the town, and there would be no more school visits, history and art talks, concerts, or courtyard performances at Castle Yard.
A further meeting between local organisations and Bradford Council is due to take place today.
The Gazette continues to encourage Ilkley people to comment on Bradford Council’s budget proposals online, at bradford.gov.uk.