Row over Amesbury Museum

First published in News by

VOLUNTEERS at Amesbury Museum have urged town councillors to “get their act in order” after they publically bickered about how the museum should be run.

Although councillors agree the museum is a good idea, a row has broken out between them and the museum’s trustees.

Problems with the lease for the building and land have caused delays and seen legal fees rocket – at council tax payers’ expense.

Cllr Andrew Williams from Amesbury’s town council’s finance committee told councillors at their meeting last Tuesday: “Legal fees have gone way over budget. We had £1,000 in the budget and over £4,000 has been spent. This is a severe cause of concern for the finance committee.”

Cllr Roger Fisher asked whether the museum’s trustees should hand over the running of the museum to the town council.

And Cllr John Noeken said: “This council is losing confidence in the way that we are dealing with the museum’s trustees.

“It is a sad disappointment. There is no lack of commitment from the council or the museum’s volunteers. However, we are losing faith. This does not bode well for the future. Good governance is critical.”

Andy Rhind-Tutt, who founded the museum and is both a town councillor and a museum trustee, said that he hoped one day funding would be available to build a new visitor attraction on the site to boost tourism.

But to do this the trustees would need to own the land on which the former Melor Hall, bought by the town council two years ago, stands.

“We cannot get match funding to build a new museum if we do not own the land,” said Cllr Rhind-Tutt. “All the stuff in the museum belongs to the trust and if we don’t run it then it will have to go somewhere else.

“We have to make this work for the community.”

Museum volunteers who attended the meeting pleaded with the council to get the matter sorted out.

“Get you act in order and move on,” said volunteer Bill Dunn. “Both sides made errors. The volunteers are happy to carry on but you have to get it sorted.”

Norman Parker from the Amesbury Society added: “We have proved over the last two years this museum can work – just get on and run it.”

Councillors agreed that the lease should be signed for the building first and discussions about the land would have to take place at a later date. The issue will come back to Amesbury Town Council’s March meeting for further discussion.

Amesbury Museum, which tells the town’s story dating back to Mesolithic times, is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays as well as for special events.

Comments (1)

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12:40pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Amesbury Fanatic says...

If the museum wants it all their own way they should fund it all themselves, this includes buying the land (at market value). Why should local tax payers pay for the land, building and services for what is in essence a private collection who no doubt want to get all the gains(if any). As far as us locals are aware the old Mellor hall is council owned and the museum are tenants who no doubt are paying very little in return but want it all their own way,. does the council get anything in return? The choice is easy Museum buy the land, self manage the museum with possibility of small grants from council or the museum remains property of council and is controlled and run by council whom appoint a museum curator. Sounds like museum is getting too big for their boots. The council do alot in the local area and should not be held to account for self egotist who appear to be out for their own glory in pursuit of their own interests.
If the museum wants it all their own way they should fund it all themselves, this includes buying the land (at market value). Why should local tax payers pay for the land, building and services for what is in essence a private collection who no doubt want to get all the gains(if any). As far as us locals are aware the old Mellor hall is council owned and the museum are tenants who no doubt are paying very little in return but want it all their own way,. does the council get anything in return? The choice is easy Museum buy the land, self manage the museum with possibility of small grants from council or the museum remains property of council and is controlled and run by council whom appoint a museum curator. Sounds like museum is getting too big for their boots. The council do alot in the local area and should not be held to account for self egotist who appear to be out for their own glory in pursuit of their own interests. Amesbury Fanatic
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