Lancashire County Council approved cuts to its budget of £65m in November and agreed to slash its museum budget from £1.2m to 98,000, leaving five of its 11 museums without funding. The cuts affected Queen Street Mill (pictured main image), Helmshore, Museum of Lancashire, Judges’ Lodgings (pictured below), and Fleetwood Museum in jeopardy.
Now the museums will continue to work with outside interested parties to find a long term funding solution to keep them open beyond September.
We recognise [the museums'] immense cultural and historical value but when it is unclear how we will pay for essential services for the vulnerable in just two years' time, it is one of many difficult decisions we have had to make
It was originally planned to close the museums on 31 March 2016, when the funding runs out, and if no alternative external proposals to run them were put forward they would close. It was proposed that on 1 April the county council would remain responsible for the buildings and collections and had set aside £500,000 to 31 March 2017 for this purpose.
“I am pleased to say that we are in active discussions with bodies interested in taking over all five museums, and we will keep the museums open until the end of September to give those discussions the best possible chance of success,” said County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Cultural Services. “It may also present an opportunity for other interested parties to come forward.”