The Arts

History Centre Saved

Since the printed version of The Whistler went to press with the story below, the decision to close the Brighton History Centre has been reversed

The press release on the Council website states:

Leading councillors have rejected proposals to move the Brighton History Centre and reduce opening hours at the city’s natural history museum. The moves were included among £660,000 of savings for next year from the council’s culture department. About £100,000 would have been saved by the changes.

However, Council leader Mary Mears has now ordered that money is diverted from any discretionary spending, such as advertising budgets, to keep the facilities operating as they are. Under the original proposals, main resources at the History Centre, in the museum building in Church Street, would have moved to Jubilee Library. They would then shift to Falmer when a new historical resources centre called The Keep opens there.

Councillor Mears said: “Since this was proposed the level of affection for these services has become very obvious, so I’ve taken the decision to redirect some of our discretionary spending towards keeping these centres open. We are faced with a tough financial situation so we’ve got to ensure that we are using public money wisely. I envisage keeping the History Centre where it is until The Keep opens.”

The Brighton Society and My Brighton & Hove have helped to raise awareness and show that people can make a difference by standing up for things in which they believe.

The original campaign email from Selma Montford of The Brighton Society…

You may have heard that B&H City Council plans to close the History Centre at Brighton Museum, and have already served the members of staff with redundancy notices. The closure decision was made at the Cabinet meeting of 9 December 2009. 

Ironically, at the start of the very same meeting, the Council Leader set, as a high priority for the forthcoming year, a commitment to “protect and respect” the cultural heritage of Brighton & Hove, a city “steeped in history”.  Cllr David Smith (Cabinet member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism) intends to move the History Centre resources to the Jubilee Library. But will there be enough space for all the contents and will they be accessible? How long will they be unavailable during the move to the library? Cllr Smith thinks that in 2 years time the resources can all be moved to the Keep, a proposed new building to house the East Sussex Record Office and the Brighton History Centre. 

Cllr Smith is optimistic if he thinks that the Keep will be ready to receive all these resources, along with those from the East Sussex Record Office, within two years, I understand that planning permission for the building has not yet been applied for. I imagine that five years would be a more accurate figure, and how long will these resources be unavailable to the public during the move? 

Cllr Smith claims that there will be “no permanent damage to services . . . [and that] any temporary inconvenience is worth bearing.” By whom? Certainly not by members of many amenity societies and researchers in the city. 

Perhaps Cllr Smith is not a regular user of the History Centre, so it maybe easy for him to bear.  Please write to Cllr David Smith and to your local councillors protesting about the closure of the History Centre.

Selma Montford, The Brighton Society

See further information at My Brighton and Hove and The Brighton Society

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