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Mystery consortium is eyeing up the under-threat Museum of Lancashire

Posted on - 23rd August, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, News, Politics, Preston City Centre
Stairwell inside the Museum of Lancashire Pic: Paul Melling

Stairwell inside the Museum of Lancashire Pic: Paul Melling

Preston’s Museum of Lancashire is being eyed up by a mystery consortium who want to save it.

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But negotiations with Lancashire County Council could stall due to financial concerns.

Documents released show how the consortium behind the bid – who have not been named – would still need financial support from both the county council and Preston City Council.

The county council revealed in late November last year it was closing the museum, along with four others across the county, saying it needed to save £65million in the next two years.

Closing the Museum of Lancashire, in Stanley Street, would save the council £238,000-a-year and see 12 jobs lost.

In early August it was announced a cash boost of £162,000 had been received from Arts Council England to help keep the museum open beyond September.

Now papers submitted to county councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, show a future for the museum could now be mapped out.

museum

Officers writen: “The offer demonstrates a good understanding of community need and contains a number of potential opportunities to enhance the current service. The offer is based on a business case which has been prepared on behalf of the consortium by a consultant. The business case contains four possible business models, based on the transfer of a number of
buildings on the site, and the possible merger of the museum with another north west based museum (for operational management purposes).

“The main concern with each of the business models on offer is that each of them requires an ongoing revenue contribution from the County Council (and Preston City
Council). This was not the basis of the invitation for expressions of interest, which was on the basis of no ongoing financial liability for the County Council.

“However, officers’ assessment of the offer is that the staffing costs contained within the business case could be reduced, with greater use of volunteers, and some of the other costs (operational running costs) could also be reduced.

“The recommendation in respect of this application is for officers to proceed immediately with discussions with the consortium, with a view to a better
understanding of the financial position of the offer. If the offer is wholly reliant on a financial contribution from the County Council then the recommendation is to halt the
negotiations and assess the position at that point.”

Read more: Closure date set for Museum of Lancs as consortium talks continue

It goes to state if the consortium can work out a new deal the museum could be transferred into their ownership by the end of 2016.

From early October the museum is going into a ‘care and maintenance’ regime, which is likely to see reduced opening hours.

Closing the museum could end up costing the county council £900,000 as the Heritage Lottery Fund paid for recent refurbishment of the building, which it may look to recoup.

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the museum to stay open.

What do you think of the consortium? Let us know your view on the museum in the comments below

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