Stoke museums hit by staff ‘exodus’

Ex-museums chief claims 12 staff have left
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Sharon Heal
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The former head of Stoke-on-Trent's museums service has expressed "deep concern" about what he has described as an "exodus" of staff.

Ian Lawley, who was the assistant director of cultural strategy and services until taking voluntary redundancy this year, said that to his knowledge, 12 staff have left or are leaving, including the service manager.

"To lose two heads of service in the space of eight months smacks of carelessness," he said. "The service is rapidly becoming anorexic."

The results of an ongoing council restructure are still not clear. A spokesman for the council would not comment on how many staff had left and said a report on the museums service was being prepared for elected members.

The city is a lead partner in the West Midlands Renaissance Hub, from which it has received more than £2.5m that has helped fund 15 posts.

Jon Finch, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council West Midlands, said he had assurances from the director of community services that any cutbacks would be from corporate services, not front-of-house or curatorial staff. But Lawley said Renaissance was supposed to be about additionality.

"For all the vacuous corporate rhetoric about breaking down silos, getting rid of 'backroom' staff and journeying to excellence, I fear that we will simply end up with a diminished service," he said. "The MLA has shown great patience up to now, but there may come a time when it has to demonstrate that it has teeth."

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