Southampton council pulls out of joint trust

But Hampshire and Winchester plan to merge
Patrick Steel
Southampton City Council will not be joining the Hampshire Solent Cultural Trust, initially devised to run arts, museums and heritage services for Southampton, Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council.

According to a Hampshire City Council report into the proposal, options involving the integration of Southampton’s services “are not achievable for Southampton in the current economic climate”.

But Hampshire and Winchester have agreed in principal to the proposal, which would see the two councils providing an annual grant for the trust to manage city and council museums, holding collections and new acquisitions on the councils’ behalf.

Under the proposals, council staff would be transfered to the trust. According to an appendix to the report, “a reorganisation of staff structure at a senior management level is anticipated” but “it is not anticipated at this stage that posts below senior management team level will be significantly affected directly by the trust proposals”.

Hampshire currently pays £583,000 to its arts and museum service, but the report estimates that joining forces with Winchester would allow it to reduce this by 18% to £463,000 a year by 2018-19. Hampshire would also need to contribute a one-off payment of £264,000 towards setting up the trust and transferring services to it.

The report flags up the risk that, should the trust fail on predicted financial performance, the council may not be in a position to provide additional funding. But the report says that not creating a trust would probably lead to “closure of venues, mothballing of services, and staff reductions”.

Keith Chapman, Hampshire’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside, said: “With Winchester and Hampshire bringing their collections together in this way, this unites the county story together with its collections for the first time and should ensure some of the best collections in the country are safeguarded for future generations.”

Winchester City Council is to make a decision on the merger at the beginning of November. Both councils would then formally consult with staff and unions over the details of the transfer to trust.

A final decision on transfer of services will take place in spring 2014.

A news analysis looking at local authority museum service mergers will be in the November edition of Museums Journal.


We said that the council would make savings of £463,000 a year by 2018-19. This is incorrect. The proposal is to reduce the budget by 18% from its current level at £583,000 to £463,000 by 2018-19.

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