Museum given extra time until September

Volunteers at Fleetwood Museum cheered and clapped when they heard the good news that they have been given some vital extra time to stay open.

Monday, 21st March 2016, 12:44 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2016, 12:46 pm
Trustees and volunteers from the Fleetwood Museum are battling to keep it safe from closure. Pictured are Keith and Sue Porter from the Fleetwood Museum Trust.

The welcome announcement came from Lancashire County Council, giving Fleetwood and similar county-run establishments a stay of execution until September.

The port facility, on Queens Terrace, is one of five museums facing potential closure after County Hall confirmed it could no longer fund them due to massive Government cuts.

Although Fleetwood Town Council has launched a rescue mission to take over the financial running of the museum, this could take several months to finalise.

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And it meant Fleetwood Museum would be unable to open for the new season in April, the start of the new financial year, losing vital business as a result.

But now Lancashire County Council has confirmed the September reprieve, to allow more time for discussions to continue with organisations keen to take them over, and for other interested parties to come forward.

Delighted Keith Porter, chairman of Fleetwood Museum Trust, said: “We were given the good news via email and there were a few of us in the museum at the time.

“When all the volunteers heard they all started clapping and cheering.

“It’s is great news for us, just what we had hoped for.

“We were worried because if we had been closed for months, we could have lost vital business.”

And museum manager Lynn Asghar, one of just two paid employees at the port’s museum, said: “I think it’s fantastic and I am looking forward to working with our wonderful team of volunteers again.”

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Cultural Services, said: “As has been widely reported, the county council’s dire financial situation means that we can no longer afford to run these museums.

“We took the decision to cease funding these five museums with very heavy hearts. We recognise their immense cultural and historical value but when it is unclear how we will pay for essential services for the vulnerable in just two years’ time, it is one of many difficult decisions we have had to make.

“I am pleased to say that we are in active discussions with bodies interested in taking over all five museums, and we will keep the museums open until the end of September to give those discussions the best possible chance of success. It may also present an opportunity for other interested parties to come forward.”

As well as Fleetwood, the other museums are The Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in the Rossendale Valley, Queen Street Mill in Burnley and The Judges’ Lodgings, Lancaster.

Fleetwood Museum is now open on Tuesdays to Saturdays at 11am to 4pm, until September, including bank holidays.