AMESBURY Town Council has taken over the town’s museum amid an ongoing dispute with the trustees about the lease for the land and building.
The council says a “new way of working is now required” and after it failed to reach an agreement with the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust.
The museum opened two years ago after Amesbury Town Council bought the former Melor Hall in a bid promote an interest in the town’s history and boost tourism.
Council tax bills in Amesbury went up by about £11 per household as a result.
But the trustees and council had a public falling out with insults traded and councillors saying they had “lost faith” in the trustees. In a statement the town council said: “A recent meeting between the town council’s policy group and the trustees agreed that nothing could be done that would satisfy both parties.
“The committee of the Amesbury Society has agreed to take on the day to day running of the museum on behalf of the town council, using the existing team of volunteers.”
Although the museum will remain open from 11am to 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday, fears have been raised the row could delay replacing the existing wooden hut with a purpose-built museum on the site, which would rely on attracting grant funding.
Trustee and founder of the museum Andy Rhind-Tutt, who is also a town councillor, said: “After months of negotiations, I am disheartened by the short-sighted decision taken this week.
“I sincerely hope the council has a robust business plan to show how the project will now be insured, administered, resourced and delivered without additional expense to the people of Amesbury. “The trust, its management team and volunteers have worked very hard to put the town’s heritage on the map and create a new educational destination for visitors to Amesbury.
“The trust will discuss with the town council the assets currently held in trust at the Melor Hall and continue to work for the promotion of Amesbury’s heritage.”