Curator of Huntingdon’s Cromwell Museum quits over concerns about trust move

PUBLISHED: 09:11 14 November 2014 | UPDATED: 09:11 14 November 2014

John Goldsmith has been at the museum since 1985.

John Goldsmith has been at the museum since 1985.

Archant

The curator of the Cromwell Museum has resigned over the way Cambridgeshire County Council is handling the asset’s future.

John Goldsmith, who has been overseeing the running of the Huntingdon museum since 1985, leaves this week.

In December last year, CCC revealed it was considering axing its funding for the attraction which could have led to its closure by the end of this year. But thousands of people demanded a u-turn and CCC has since agreed to set up an independent charitable trust to run it by April 2016.

Mr Goldsmith, who resigned in August, told The Hunts Post: “I am unhappy with the way the process has gone towards the development of a trust.

“It’s not that I don’t think a trust is a bad idea in principle, but if it is to be set up and be successful it needs more nurture and support than is currently on offer.

“I am afraid the county council has taken a rather doctrinaire approach in terms of its role. The view expressed by senior management is that museum provision is not a statutory obligation, therefore the county council should not be doing it.

“The county council does many things that are not statutory but this one thing has, for some reason, become a cause being pushed through despite all the benefit the museum brings to Huntingdon.”

CCC was to appoint someone to manage the formation of a trust, added Mr Goldsmith, but was yet to advertise the post.

Mr Goldsmith became the county’s museums officer, which included the Cromwell, in 1985. The post was made redundant in 2005 but he came back as curator of the Cromwell a couple of months later.

“It’s time for me to go anyway,” he said. “I’m at an age when I can spend time nurturing vegetables and pursuing other Cromwell-related interests.”

Bob Pugh from the Friends of the Cromwell Museum, set up last year to support the museum, said members had been sad to learn of the resignation.

He said: “John has served the museum, and the county and community, with distinction, and made an amazing contribution to safeguarding the memory of Cromwell and all the excellent attributes that he stood for.

“It will not only be the museum but a much wider national and international community who will be the worse for John’s departure, for reasons that we all understand and share.”

Meanwhile, the future of the museum is due to be discussed by CCC’s Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee on November 18, when members will be asked to agree to create a “charitable incorporated organisation”.

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