Stockport Story Museum

Stockport considers future of museums

Gareth Harris, 08.09.2014
Council needs to save £40m by 2017
Stockport Council is considering plans to run its museums at “arm’s length” in a bid to meet savings targets and boost income.

The council aims to reduce its total budget by almost £40m between 2015 and 2017.

A council report dating from 12 August says that “a new delivery model” will be developed for museums and cultural attractions operating “at arm’s length from the council, based on a reduced cost base, increased income generation, and greater volunteering/community involvement.”

The new model will need to “safeguard the council’s cultural assets, protect existing income streams, and avoid the risk of financial penalties from external funders”, adds the report.

Patrick McAuley, executive member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “The council is keen to safeguard its unique and distinct heritage attractions, and is in the early stages of looking at options for operating museums with a reduced budget.”

Over the next two to three months, options will be identified by working with staff and stakeholders and a detailed proposal will be available by December, he added.

The museum service covers seven institutions including Bramall Hall, Stockport Art Gallery, the Hat Works Museum, Stockport Story Museum and Air Raid Shelters.

A council spokeswoman declined to comment on whether switching to trust status is an option.

However, the council leader Sue Derbyshire told the Manchester Evening News: “The council would retain ownership of the buildings, but put the management of museums into trusts. These bodies will manage them and actually run them as tourist attractions. Hopefully, it will encourage entrepreneurship.”

The council also declined to say if the move would lead to staff cuts.