The Chancellor's Autumn Statement and Council Tax collections have helped four Bristol venues avoid the threat of closure
Four of Bristol’s best historic attractions - Blaise Castle House Museum, the Georgian House Museum, Kings Weston Roman Villa and the Red Lodge Museum - face a surer future after Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, decided to remove the venues from budget proposals which could have seen them close in 2015.
© Courtesy Wikimedia
The leader’s review of his draft budget proposal, announced last year, has been helped by a relatively favourable Autumn Statement from the government and unexpectedly strong local Council Tax revenues, giving the authority £4.5 million in “room to manoeuvre”.
An ensuing local consultation drew some forthright views on the future of culture in a city well-known for its artistic strength. A highlight of the report’s comments page suggests arts organisations should “generate their own income like a business”, and almost 500 people signed a petition, Save Blaise Castle, in support of the Grade II-listed, 18th century house and estate linked to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.
One meeting, attended by the Mayor and his Assistant Mayor, Councillor Barbara Janke, heard that the city’s museums were “essential” for children in the Hengrove area, with speakers urging the authority to “take a stand” against central government.
While cuts to the four sites could have saved around £162,000, the review of the local library service – thought to cost around £1.1 million – earned strong disagreement in the survey, being described as a “vital part” of a civilised society.
The amendment report said that a review of the venues would continue, but would “remove any immediate pressure” to reduce costs.
A proposal to charge a standard adult museum admission fee of £1, floated in an “ideas lab” by the Mayor, received a mixed reception from a handful of participants.
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