Norwich Castle

Investigation calls for council-owned museum admission fees to be reduced and potentially scrapped across Norfolk

By richard wheeler
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
6.23 PM

Admission fees to Norfolk’s council-owned museums, including Norwich Castle, could be reduced and even scrapped at set times during the day, according to a new report.

And a review of the charges for the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology (NMAS) service’s 10 sites is being pushed as a matter of urgency for the service’s new boss, who is due to take up the post next year.

The current charges, which sees adults pay up to £6.80 to visit Norwich Castle and £9.10 for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, are viewed by a new Norfolk County Council report as putting people off from visiting and adds it makes a “relatively small contribution” to the service’s budget.

All 10 of the NMAS’s attractions should also aspire to be open seven days a week, with the current opening times criticised as “erratic and confusing” by the in-depth review into the service.

Staff and museum officials in Lincoln, Hull and Colchester were among those spoken to during the review, which has put forward 21 recommendations for NMAS.

They also include exploring all options to allow people to hire NMAS buildings and reviewing arrangements and facilities for school visits, to ensure they are fit for purpose in giving a positive experience to children and other visitors.

The report also notes evidence that some members of the service’s staff feel management do not always welcome their views and concerns, and that some staff have felt “intimidated by management”.

The document adds the councillors have “no way of knowing if this is widespread”.

Labour group leader George Nobbs, chairman of the Norfolk County Council cabinet working group responsible for the review, said there was much to “celebrate and admire” but they have found many improvements can be made.

Mr Nobbs said: “We feel that we owe it to the previous generations of individuals, who gave so freely to their local museums in the expectation that the collections would be for all the people of their local community, and to the pioneering local councils who provided vital funds in the early days that we speak frankly now when making our recommendations.”

NMAS’s attractions also include: the Bridewell Museum, in Norwich, Strangers’ Hall, in Norwich, Lynn Museum, the Elizabethan House Museum, in Great Yarmouth, Time and Tide in Great Yarmouth, The Tolhouse, in Great Yarmouth, Cromer Museum and The Ancient House, Thetford.

Barry Stone, Conservative cabinet member for cultural services, said he welcomed the report’s comments and further talks would take place before final recommendations were put forward.