Antique books, museums, libraries in the firing line for council’s cultural cuts

The Norfolk and Norwich Millenium Library in the Forum. Photo: Paul Hewitt

The Norfolk and Norwich Millenium Library in the Forum. Photo: Paul Hewitt

The first details of how the latest round of budget cuts at Norfolk County Council could hit cultural services have been revealed.

Paul Smyth, Norfolk County councillor.

Paul Smyth, Norfolk County councillor. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The council said it was facing a £13m budget shortfall in 2015-16, and the £900,000 contribution from areas such as museums, libraries and arts will be considered by councillors next Tuesday.

The report due includes details of specific proposals for services. They include:

• Cutting library service staffing costs by £60,000;

• Increasing income from museums and cutting staff to save £88,000;

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• Charging for car parking at the Gressenhall Workhouse and Farm (£15,000);

• Charging for entry to the Ancient House Museum in winter (£3,000);

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• A one-off sale of some 'antiquarian and collectable books'. The council said they are not current lending stock, and do not relate to Norfolk or its history (£100,000);

• Reducing spending on buying documents and conservation materials that would reduce 'the amount of document processing and preservation that can be achieved' by the Records Office (£26,000);

• A cut in funding for Healthwatch Norfolk, the consumer champion for health and social care (£50,000).

The proposals would still leave cultural services to find a further £105,000, with another £95,000 to come from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, which also falls within the Communities Committee's remit.

Committee chairman Paul Smyth said: 'We will obviously aim to preserve the delivery of existing services as much as possible, but it would be counter-productive to pretend that such enduring and severe financial pressure will not have some impact on the services the Communities Committee is responsible for.

'Staff will continue to look closely at how we do business, including how we might generate income, and I would urge residents and organisations in Norfolk to take part in the forthcoming public consultation on savings proposals, so that their views are given due consideration before the final budget is drafted.'

The meeting will take place in the Edwards Room, at County Hall, at 10am on Tuesday, October 21.

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