Wrexham scraps plan for museum and library trust - Museums Association

Wrexham scraps plan for museum and library trust

Review finds that trust would not be ‘financially viable’
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Wrexham council has scrapped a proposal to transfer its library and heritage services into a single independent trust.

The council, which oversees the largest heritage service in north Wales, approved plans in January this year to create a culture trust to manage the county’s museums, libraries, community centres and a planned arts hub.

However, a legal and financial review of the plans found that the trust option was not “financially viable”, reporting that it would cost £200,000-a-year less to keep the services in-house. 

The report found that the additional costs of setting up the trust would come to £371,000 annually, compared to projected savings of almost £170,000-a-year that the trust would bring in business rates relief.

A council report stated: “Taking into account the outcome of both the legal and financial review, it is felt no longer financially viable at this time to set up an independent trust to potentially deliver the council’s library, heritage and archives services and that the most cost-effective option at this point in time is to retain these services within the council.”

Members of the council’s executive board voted against proceeding with the trust at a meeting last week. The council’s lead member for people, communities and partnerships, Hugh Jones, told the board: “It is always right when you have made a decision, especially when circumstances around you are changing, that you keep the original decision under review.”

A council spokesman said the executive board had instead decided to continue with the existing model, voting in favour of keeping the facilities as “in-house services to be supported”.
 
The culture trust option was first put forward in 2014 as a means of averting the threat of closure and giving the services a sustainable future.

An independent report produced last year by museum consultants Hillary McGowan and Associates had warned the council against creating a combined trust, saying “heritage and libraries can be uncomfortable bedfellows”.


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