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Lib Dems Investigate ways to Save Snibston

January 16, 2014 9:00 AM

Snibston

Cllrs Sarah Hill, Simon Galton and Michael Wyatt visited Snibston to meet with staff and volunteers to discuss options to keep it open.

Liberal Democrat Councillors visited Snibston this week to meet with volunteers and staff to assess the current state of the museum and to see what could be done to ensure it stays open.

Despite being the most popular museum in the County, receiving almost 100,000 visitors and generating in around £600,000 in income each year, the costs of running the centre require the County Council to pay out £740,000 per year to keep it open.

The Conservative-run County Council intends to reduce this subsidy by £240,000 by downsizing, closing down the main Discovery Museum and focusing on a mining museum around the monument. While that would save the Council money, it would also vastly reduce the features and appeal of the place. It may also leave the Council liable to pay back substantial amounts in grants it was given to develop the centre.

Warren Hills Councillor Mike Wyatt said, "Snibston is the most popular museum in the County. It would be a huge shame for us to lose it unnecessarily. Yes the Council needs to save money, but we're not convinced that downsizing is the best way to do it.

If anything we need to allow Snibston the freedom to be commercially viable. One option we are looking at is to give it Trust status, making it independent from County Hall. "

The Liberal Democrats claim that this independence would allow for reduced business rates and free the museum from County Hall red tape, allowing them to act more commercially and to contribute more to the local economy.

"I don't want to see a decision made on Snibston's future until we have fully explored these avenues." Cllr Wyatt continued, "I am calling for a Scrutiny Panel to fully assess these options."

Cllr Simon Galton Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Chairman of the Scrutiny Panel said, "We are all working together with Cllr Michael Wyatt who has really championed the need to retain Snibston Discovery Park. We are eager to not only help to keep this vital service but also give the Museum the ability to be self sufficient."