Support for Norfolk museums trust plan

Proposals to hand over control of running Norfolk's museums to a charitable trust have won the backing of an organisation which aims to make councils more efficient.

Norfolk County Council is considering the future of the museum service, which is currently jointly run by the county and district councils.

The county council commissioned legal firm Winckworth Sherwood to explore the future of the service and the consultants have suggested a charitable trust running museums could shield them from council cuts.

They said trust status would mean museums could look for new sources of funding not available through the current set-up. The buildings would still belong to councils, but would be leased at a peppercorn rent.

However, George Nobbs, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, has vociferously opposed such a move, fearing a loss of accountability.

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But Cecilia Tredget, director of Improvement East, said: 'The economic reality is that councils have to provide services with significantly reduced funding and resources.

'The proposal for the Norfolk Museums Service is a very creative solution which should provide better value for money and a more sustainable future for the service.'

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Members of the Norfolk Joint Museums and Archaeology Committee, made up of county, city and district councillors will discuss the report and its recommendation when it meets this Friday.

The report which will come before them says options open to the committee are to boot out the trust idea, to request further information into the financial benefits of it or to request further information about setting up a county council-owned arms length company to better exploit commercial opportunities associated with the service.

Members of the Norwich Area Museums Committee will also have their say at a meeting at City Hall tomorrow.

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