Kirklees Council denies union claims it plans to close all museums in the winter

A TOP official has denied union claims that museums will close for winter.

Oakwell Hall at Birstall

A TOP official has denied union claims that museums will close for winter.

Last week Unison accused Kirklees Council of planning to shut attractions including Tolson Museum in Moldgreen for three months each year.

Steward Kath McHendry claimed council officers had told her of the cost-cutting plan – which would also affect the Red House Museum in Gomersal, Dewsbury Museum in Crow Nest Park, Bagshaw Museum in Batley and Birstall’s Oakwell Hall.

But last night Kirklees director of wellbeing Merran McRae denied the council planned to close the museums all winter.

She said: “The council values its cultural services highly and will seek to make any changes agreed at times when there is traditionally low public demand.

“We believe we can manage this change and still deliver a strong museum service and staff are currently being consulted on how this can be achieved.

“Last year’s budget meeting agreed to reduced opening hours and this is what is now being put to the budget-setting meeting of the full council on February 22.”

A Kirklees spokeswoman added: “Cuts in public expenditure mean that the council is having to review all its services and make savings where possible.

“However, it is not proposing the extensive three-month winter closures to museums and historic houses suggested recently.

“All the museum sites are currently open seven days a week, all year round. There is scope to better design the service around visitor numbers, particularly in the winter when numbers are lower.

“We are considering, therefore, moving to a mixture of five or six days a week opening throughout the year for all sites, with early closing in winter for the main museums and weekend only winter opening for Red House and Oakwell Hall.

“The Oakwell visitor centre will still be open during the winter week and there will be arrangements at both sites for winter group and school visits.

“The changes will also mean that the growing demand for wedding ceremonies in Oakwell Hall can be met more easily and these will bring in income”.

 
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