Wirral Council leader denies 'secret agenda' to close Williamson Art Gallery and Museum (From Wirral Globe)
Send us news by text, start your message Globe News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Wirral Council leader denies 'secret agenda' to close Williamson Art Gallery and Museum
WIRRAL’S council leader Phil Davies has denied a “hidden agenda” exists to close the borough’s renowned Williamson Art Gallery and Museum.
A catalogue of options put out for public consultation to cut local authority spending lists a saving of £400,000 to be made by the council-owned Williamson.
Oxton Lib/Dem councillor Stuart Kelly has written to chief executive Graham Burgess demanding to know what these so-called “efficiencies” mean in practice.
He fears a secret agenda to close the gallery.
Councillor Kelly said: “The chief executive’s budget options want savings of £400,000 from the Williamson over two years without giving any idea or indication how things will change.
“How are people expected to give feedback without full information?
“The lack of detail is very worrying and I'm concerned that there may be a hidden agenda to pull out of the Williamson.
“I would remind the council it has just reopened the galleries after an investment of £1.25m. It would be crazy for the Labour administration to pull out of supporting the Williamson after spending all that money on improvements.”
He concluded: “The Williamson is a focal point for Oxton and I am determined it is not closed or undermined by Labour’s short-term attitude.”
Councillor Davies scorned the claims.
He said: “With respect to Cllr Kelly, he must realise it is his party's Coalition Government that has put us in this position by reducing our budget so drastically.
“But there is absolutely no hidden agenda to close the Williamson.
“After all the money we have invested in it, that would make no sense at all.
“What we are asking is are there other, more creative ways to run it?
“Can more income be generated from it? Can the Friends of the Williamson group help with staffing?"
He added: “In an ideal world, I’d want to provide a Rolls Royce service for the people of Wirral.
“But the reality of the situation is we must find these savings if the council is to set a legal budget.”
Earlier this week it was revealed Wirral faces a funding gap for the coming year of £27.5m.
But the cumulative effect of a Government squeeze on finances has created a shortfall of around £145m over four years.
Chief executive Graham Burgess said on Monday: “The scale of the cuts is pretty huge.”
A re-run of last year’s consultation project “What Really Matters” has been launched.
Residents are invited to let the council know where they think savings could be made or where extra income might be generated.
Comments are closed on this article.