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Record office to become latest council service to suffer from cutbacks

PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:40 10 January 2019

Gary Tuson, County Archivist and Head of Norfolk Record Office. Photo: Norfolk County Council

Gary Tuson, County Archivist and Head of Norfolk Record Office. Photo: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council

A service connecting the region with its history is to become the latest victim of cutbacks, as County Hall strives to save vital funds.

Jonathan Draper at Norfolk Record Office Photo by Simon FinlayJonathan Draper at Norfolk Record Office Photo by Simon Finlay

The Norfolk Record Office, which provides a gateway into the past by allowing people to scroll through historical archives, is set to scale back its service, in a move the county council hopes will save £75,000.

Currently a five days per week service, the proposals would see this reduced to four, with the office due to cease operations on either Mondays or Fridays.

The proposals also suggest shaving hours off its opening times by opening an hour later each day and only remaining open until 7pm on one Thursday per month, instead of all Thursdays.

However, it is not just opening hours that are touted with change, with cutbacks also proposed for educational work, volunteering opportunities and staffing.

Norfolk Record Office, pictured in 1970. Picture: Archant libraryNorfolk Record Office, pictured in 1970. Picture: Archant library

A County Hall spokesman said: “Our proposals would see the record office lost the equivalent of 2.3 full-time employees, which we are hoping to address through natural means or redeployment.

“The record office currently operates an extensive volunteer programme. Our proposals would see slightly less staff time allocated to this, which would lead to a small reduction in support for volunteers.

“Under our proposals, the education and outreach programmes would also see a small reduction in support. We are looking into ways of funding activities externally alongside partners such as the Norfolk Archives and Heritage Development Foundation.

“The resource to support volunteers would be affected by around 23pc, but we are counteracting this by investing in online resources.

“Our outreach programmes would also be affected, as we will have less resource with which to provide new courses.”

The council gathered views on the proposals before Christmas, in a consultation which received 98 responses, with opinion finely divided.

The main concern raised in this feedback was that the proposed new opening hours would prevent working people from being able to access the search room.

On Friday, members of the record committee will decide whether to back the proposals, while also determining if Mondays or Fridays are the best day to close to office.

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