A DRIVE to scrutinise options for the future of the Ilkley’s Manor House Museum is underway, as district leaders debate handing it over to the community next April.

A group of Ilkley people is discussing a feasbility study asking what the town wants from the museum, on Castle Yard – and it is believed suggestions include establishing a larger “cultural quarter” for Ilkley.

But time may be running out for the community to come up with a plan for the museum’s future.

A report recommending a transfer from local authority to community management by April 2015 will be presented to Bradford Council’s executive on Tuesday.

A council spokesman said the report looks at options for the site and recommends that if the site is to be retained as a visitor attraction at the same time as making the required savings, the best course of action is to transfer it to the community.

In the meantime, the museum and art gallery would be run at a slightly reduced level by the council, with support from Ilkley Parish Council and the Museum Friends Group and volunteers.

This would give extra time for community interest groups to develop plans and proposals. If agreed, the expectation is that the museum would be managed by the community from April 1, 2015.

A meeting chaired by Ilkley Parish Council chairman, Councillor Andrew Walbank, last Thursday was held in a bid to identify people who can formulate and lead plans for the community management of the museum.

There have been discussions about creating a "cultural quarter", including the Manor House.

An informal community group, separate to the Friends of the Manor House, has got together to consider options for the future of the museum.

Ruth Pitt, who chairing this group, said it is looking at its options, but believes a feasbility study is needed.

She said: "There's a group of people in Ilkley who are really interested in looking into what the alternatives might be for fulfilling the potential of the Manor House, but our feeling is that we need to do a feasibility study to kind of find out what the town really wants,

to get a sense of who's out there and what support there would be.

"The question is, whether or not there is time, or how much time there is to do that."

The Museum was at risk of being "mothballed" earlier this year under Bradford Council savings, but a deal with Ilkley Parish Council, plus the help of Friends of the Manor House volunteers, kept it in Council hands for another year.

Bradford Council's Executive Member for Employment, Skills and Culture, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: "The Manor House Museum and Gallery is a valuable asset for Ilkley and a good tourist attraction for the district.

"I'm grateful for the support of Ilkley Parish Council and the Museum Friends Group in keeping the Museum open while a more permanent community-led solution is found."

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