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LIB DEMS QUESTION £8M PRICE TAG TO REPAIR TOLSON MUSEUM

January 2, 2015 5:37 PM
Originally published by Kirklees Liberal Democrats
Kirklees Liberal Democrats

Kirklees Liberal Democrats

- New Survey of Museum Promised

Liberal Democrat Councillors are questioning the £8m sum Kirklees Cabinet says it would need to spend to bring Tolson Museum back up to a standard befitting its listed status.

Through discussions with Council Officers, Cllr Phil Scott has learnt that the £8m figure he was first told about in October 2013 is now out-of-date due to pieces of work on the building having been completed since the last survey was conducted in 2007.

He has also learnt that the £8m price tag he was quoted included expensive adaptations and modifications for the building - such as a new lift and improved access - which he understands are not essential to resolving the building's more immediate structural problems. Councillor Scott believes this means that the actual amount of investment required to bring the building back up to an acceptable standard is in fact significantly less than the £8m quoted previously.

At the Council Meeting on the 10th December the Cabinet Member responsible for museums, Cllr Peter O'Neil, said he didn't know anything about the £8m figure and was unable to comment on it. He was however able to confirm that visitor numbers and income at Tolson is up by 22% and 141% over the last 12 months lending weight to Almondbury Lib Dem's calls for investment in Tolson Museum. Liberal Democrat Councillors have been calling on Kirklees to make a capital sum of £2m available to fund works to the roof, walls and windows that would make the Museum water tight again for the last two years but have had their requests refused in February 2013 and 2014.

Outside the Council meeting on the 10th December, Cllr Scott raised his concerns about the £8m figure with the Council Leader and received a guarantee that a new survey of Tolson Museum would now be commissioned.

Cllr Phil Scott (Almondbury Ward) said:

"In October 2013 I was told that the Council would need to spend £8m to bring Tolson Museum back up to a standard befitting its listed status. However, through discussions I have had with officers about what works are needed, I now strongly believe that the basic amount Tolson Museum needs to bring it back up to an acceptable standard is actually between £1m and £2m. This would make the building wind and watertight again and be a huge step forward. I would love much more to be invested, but we have to cut our cloth and anything else we want see happen will probably have to make up part of a longer term plan for the museum for the time being. The £8m figure I feel has stopped Cabinet supporting the Museum but once the new survey is finished and they have things clearly set out in front of them hopefully they will find a way to support Huddersfield's only museum."