Lincolnshire County Council pushes ahead with changes to heritage services

Gainsborough Old Hall.
Gainsborough Old Hall.

Lincolnshire County Council is pushing ahead with changes to the county’s heritage services after passing a series of recommendations.

Campaigners hoping to save Lincoln’s Usher Gallery, however, say more clarity is needed.

The county council says it expects to save £750,000 per year.

The City of Lincoln Council has also criticised the latest plans, saying it was not given a chance to formally consult on the return of 30,000 artefacts held in Lincolnshire’s collections.

A scrutiny committee this morning approved the plans following analysis of consultation which saw 827 out of 1,104 responses reject the proposals.

Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for heritage, said: “It was a very positive meeting and, working with partners, we’ll find a way to move forward to a long and sustainable heritage service and one that provides quality.”

He denied accusations he was ignoring a 4,000 signature petition and the results of the consultation.

He also said that there had been plenty of time to read the latest documents, despite them only being released on Thursday.

“The main consultation document hasn’t changed… There has been ample time, I’ve had four days to go through it myself, it’s a lot of reading but you can do it.”

Changes include making The Collection into a heritage “supersite”, meaning it would tell a range of stories and exhibitions rather than just one, and rminating the lease on Gainsborough Old Hall and handing it over to English Heritage

During the meeting, campaigners said the county’s own heritage should be above all other priorities for the service.

The head of culture for Lincolnshire County Council, Will Mason, also told councillors that a focus on holding bigger events, such as the current dinosaur exhibition, the recent Moon Museum and the future Viviene Westwood exhibit at the Castle, was designed to make the service more sustainable.

He said the benefits of a super-site “will give more reason to visit”.

He added that moving art to The Collection would open up the artworks to wider audiences – for example, the moon exhibit attracted 48,000 visitors and raised £20,000 in donations.

Following the meeting, he said: “It’s very heartening there is such strong passion for heritage and culture in Lincolnshire and I’m very pleased to see so many people do care.

“We’re doing things that have never been done before in this county and we are committed to do that.

“These are exciting things that are opening up collections to new audiences.”