Norfolk Museums Service consults on restructure

Geraldine Kendall, 21.01.2015
Funding squeeze could lead to staff cuts
Norfolk Museums Service is consulting on a restructure that could mean the loss of 10 posts this year.

The service will see its council funding cut by £941,000 in total by 2017 and has also had its Major Partner Museum grant from Arts Council England cut by almost 15% for 2015-18. It needs to find savings of £432,000 in the next financial year.

According to a consultation document, the service is proposing to delete 14 posts and create four new positions with a greater level of responsibility. This would mean the loss of four full-time and six part-time jobs in all.

Under the proposals, six existing posts in area and operations management will be consolidated into four new positions, including a new head of operations and learning and three operations manager posts.

The 10 jobs being considered for redundancy include posts relating to archaeology, exhibitions, museum development, volunteer management and youth engagement.

The proposed restructure will “minimise disruption to frontline services” and enable the organisation to maintain its learning and social inclusion programmes, according to the document.

Steve Miller, the head of Norfolk Museums Service, said it was a “tough time” for all museums.

“While the majority of this funding gap can be met through additional earned income, it is only possible to meet the full reduction by reducing our costs, including our employment costs, and regrettably, we are facing the prospect of having to make some very difficult decisions in the coming months,” said Miller.

“In delivering these difficult savings, we are working hard to ensure the long-term sustainability of the service, and continue to deliver the same high-quality service to the public, schools and communities at a time of extraordinary pressure on local authority budgets.”

Miller said the decision to reduce staffing was particularly hard to make in light of the service’s “exceptional performance” over the past year, which saw it significantly increase its self-generated income and host its most successful temporary exhibition to date.

The organisation has established an independent development foundation to give it more flexibility to raise funds, and is expanding commercial activity at its venues, including wedding and conference hire.

Miller said the proposals were "still very much in negotiation" and the service would ensure the views of staff were taken into consideration. Public-facing operations and opening hours would not be affected by the new structure, he added.

The consultation closes on 30 January and a final decision on the restructure will be announced in early February.

Norfolk County Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Comments

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Vanessa Trevelyan
MA Member
Consultant, Vanessa Trevelyan Consultancy
27.01.2015, 11:11
As someone with a very vested interest in how well Norfolk Museums Service is managing the cuts process, I consider that Steve Miller is doing a sterling job to ensure the long-term sustainability of the service and preserve the quality of as many public services as possible. It is extremely sad that so many museum services are facing such draconian cuts. Hopefully, we can hunker down and preserve services as much as possible while waiting for the green shoots of recovery.
Anonymous
MA Member
23.01.2015, 14:35
No, he's not engaging in double-speak, I never said he was. He's trying to make the best of the impossible situation the Council have placed him in. But the staff are already stretched to breaking point, having had just as many cuts to absorb last year.
Anonymous
MA Member
22.01.2015, 22:40
Of course, it could be that currently there are great inefficiences in both staff and the use of resources at Norfolk Museums and that consequently when the manager says they can make this many people redundant and still ensure that the service will 'continue to deliver the same high-quality service to the public, schools and communities' and that 'Public-facing operations and opening hours would not be affected', he is not engaging in double-speak. We don't know and won't know for a few years yet.
Anonymous
MA Member
22.01.2015, 16:40
With the best will in the world, it won't be possible to maintain the same level of service. The proposed cuts in this round will leave gaping holes in the structure.
Anonymous
22.01.2015, 12:05
While it is indeed a tough time for all museums and the need for cost-cutting is recognised, the proposed redundancies follow the loss of 14 posts (6.5 FTE) at Norfolk Museum Service in early 2014. It is disingenuous, or at best naive, to hope that the same level of service to the public can be maintained, as it has already suffered since last year's redundancies.