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Transformation of record office service to be debated

PUBLISHED: 11:27 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:27 29 November 2018

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Feedback from a controversial consultation into the Lowestoft Record Office and “future delivery” of the service will come under scrutiny in the next few days.

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick ButcherLowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

The transformation of the Suffolk Record Office (SRO) service provided in Lowestoft will be debated as two meetings are held.

The Lowestoft Record Office decision-making process will be discussed at a meeting of Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee at Riverside, in Lowestoft on Thursday, November 29.

It relates “to transforming the service” and covers the period from July 2015, when the county council’s cabinet decided to approve the business case for The Hold project, to January 2018, when the county council stated that the existing Lowestoft Record Office would be replaced by an unmanned Access Point.

The report to councillors states: “To explore the practicalities of the way in which the final decision about the future of Lowestoft Record Office has been reached, and how the available options were communicated and consulted upon, with a view to applying the learning to future decisionmaking.”

The scope of this scrutiny has been developed to provide the committee with information to come to a view on five key questions.

Next Tuesday, December 4 the county council’s cabinet will meet at Endeavour House in Ipswich to assess the Lowestoft Record Office consultation

as a 116-page report from the interim director of growth, highways and infrastructure is discussed.

The Transforming Suffolk Record Office – Lowestoft Record Office consultation report will see the council’s cabinet being asked to look at a number of key points.

A report says: “Cabinet is asked to agree that the decision on the final details on the shape of the Lowestoft Record Office service is delegated to the director of growth, highways and infrastructure in consultation with the cabinet member for Ipswich, Communities and Waste.

“It is further agreed that a report will be brought to cabinet in autumn 2019 that provides an update of those decisions that are taken between now and then.”

A community campaign to protect the Lowestoft Record Office, based at the town’s library, was launched earlier this year. With members of the Save Our Record Office (SORO) group in Lowestoft campaigning against the removal of historic archives from the record office to the £20m heritage centre in Ipswich called The Hold, as well as changes to the service, the campaigners have also ran its own independent community consultation document.

Consultation

Suffolk County Council’s online Lowestoft Record Office consultation, on an archive service for north east Suffolk, ran from September 21 to November 1.

With 180 responses received during the process – 168 from individuals and 12 from organisations – the consultation covered opening hours, events and activities, collections, digitisation and volunteering.

A report to Suffolk county council’s cabinet states that among those reponding was Lowestoft Town Council, “who raised a number of concerns,” Beccles Town Council, who responded that the “Council unanimously decided that, as the document does not consult on the issues that the council is most concerned about, it would not be responding to the questions within the consultation” and Waveney MP Peter Aldous who spoke of “the need for a detailed Digitisation Plan, a future governance structure for the transformed SRO that includes representation from the north east of the county and for any future LRO service to work with the many other heritage and culture activities taking place in Lowestoft and develop a heritage strategy for Lowestoft.”

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