Campaigners claim archives decision shows 'contempt for North East Suffolk'
PUBLISHED: 12:28 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:15 11 September 2019
Campaigners are calling on a county council to revisit its decision to remove historic archives from Lowestoft Record Office.
It comes days ahead of a heritage festival in which Lowestoft has now twice proved themselves to be county leaders.
Bob Collis, chairman of the Save Our Record Office (SORO) group, said: "The Lowestoft Heritage Open Days (HODs) event has more than twice the number of events than our county town of Ipswich, and more registered events than anywhere else in Suffolk.
"Yet against this amazing backdrop of positive, proactive heritage work, our county council seems hell-bent on removing our unique local archives to 'The Hold' in Ipswich, meaning a 45-mile drive down the A12 or a £20 train journey for anyone who wants to see them."
The council is continuing to press ahead with the proposed changes to the service citing National Archives advice, falling visitor numbers and flooding risks at the Lowestoft site.
Mr Collis said: "Despite widespread objections to the plan, including a 7,400 signature petition, opposition from three Suffolk town councils and Waveney MP Peter Aldous, the council seem determined to rip the archival heritage heart out of this town.
"This decision is flying in the face of democracy and common sense.
"It should be overturned immediately.
"It is yet another example of the contempt our county council has for North East Suffolk."
Lowestoft has made the national top 10 towns and cities with the highest number of registered Heritage Open Days sites and events - more than 80 - being held over 10 days from September 13, opposed to 34 for Ipswich.
Paul West, the county council's cabinet member with responsibility for Heritage, said: "The countywide activity plan which forms part of The Hold project enables us to provide a wide variety of free events, talks and workshops, some of which can be seen at the upcoming Heritage Open Days.
"We have worked closely with senior archivists to identify all material which can continue to safely be housed in Lowestoft, meaning that many of the most well-used collections will continue to be accessed in Lowestoft.
"Vulnerable collections will move to the bespoke facilities at The Hold, where they will receive the best possible care to ensure their long-term preservation, to ensure people of Suffolk and visitors to the county can continue to discover and enjoy Suffolk's heritage for generations to come."