Huntingdon museum could close in county spending cuts

Sri Lankan Swords at Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon, held by John Goldsmith

Sri Lankan Swords at Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon, held by John Goldsmith - Credit: Archant

The closure of the Cromwell Museum, in Huntingdon, is among a raft of proposals to slash £149million from the county council’s budget by 2019.

Cambridgeshire residents face the prospect of paying more – Council Tax is likely to rise by 1.99 per cent – for less.

The latest round of cuts suggest the future of some CHILDREN’S CENTRES, LIBRARIES and HOUSEHOLD WASTE CENTRES is under threat, the number of routes covered by GRITTERS could be reduced, while money-raising ideas include CHARGING TO PARK at the Guided Busway in St Ives and Longstanton.

The county’s Business Plan for Cambridgeshire document says closing the museum, which opened in 1962 and attracts thousands of visitors a year, would save £20,000 in 2015/16.

County Councillor Sir Peter Brown, a member of the museum’s management committee, said he would fight for it to remain open – no matter how it was funded or run.

“Obviously, the county council had to look at everything in the round when it has to make reductions like this,” he said.

“That does not mean it’s going to happen. I shall be quite vociferous in defending the museum.”

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Mayor of Huntingdon Councillor Bill Hensley, a member of the museum’s board of trustees, said: “I think closing it would be a disaster.

“It’s the draw to Huntingdon for our tourists. Numbers would drop and that would reflect on takings in restaurants and shops. There are some absolute treasures inside, some permanently on loan.

“The town council could not afford to run it. We’ve just had £83,000 slashed from our budget by the district council. I’m very ­disappointed it’s even being considered.”

The county is set to lose nearly 21 per cent of its Government funding over the next two financial years – nearly £30m. County council leader Councillor Martin Curtis said: “This is a very tough time for councils and especially Cambridgeshire.

“We are one of the hardest-hit ­authorities in the country in terms of funding and yet we are trying to deliver the most growth.”

Cllr Curtis said a lot of work had been done to protect services, adding: “However, the scale of savings we now need to make means we have to make tough decisions and inevitably some regrettable cuts to frontline services.”