Museum bid delay puzzle

Blackpool Council's Helen France
Blackpool Council's Helen France
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BOSSES at one of the UK’s biggest museums are “reluctant” to move into the newly revamped Winter Gardens, it has been claimed.

Town hall bosses are currently speaking to representatives of the Victoria and Albert museum to bring elements to the resort in what would be the first regional version of its kind outside London.

The current situation was revealed at a meeting of the Culture, Communities and Business Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Blackpool Council.

Chairman Coun David Owen, said he could not understand the delay.

He added: “It seems absolutely bananas to me because we have the building and we have the goods, so why are they not there and why is there a reluctance to look at the Winter Gardens?”

But Helen France, executive director of Places, told the meeting: “Blackpool Council and the V&A Museum have a long-standing and successful relationship and there is keen interest in establishing a permanent Victoria and Albert presence in Blackpool.

“Recent discussions with the V&A have confirmed the board and Blackpool Council remain committed to developing a proposals for a Blackpool Museum.”

Funding remains an issue with securing the deal had been put on hold after the Government spending review.

But Mrs France said work had progressed over the last few weeks.

She added: “It has been quite a positive few weeks with us and the V&A and, while we haven’t got a plan or a decision, we are still their first choice and they want us to be the main location outside of London.”

The exact location for the museum if it were to come to Blackpool could be the Winter Gardens or a purpose built exhibition centre as organisers want to move away from the heritage sites and listed buildings which house the museums in London.

Polly Hamilton, assistant director of cultural services, said: “What the V&A are trying to do is to look for a contemporary building.

“They are trying to showcase that and they are also interested in the Winter Gardens.”