New plans for the future of Hampshire’s museums

From left, Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon sign the formal application for a Solent Combined Authority in 2016

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THE future direction of Hampshire’s museums will be decided within the next two weeks.

Councillors from the culture, communities and rural affairs select committee will look over the draft three year plan this week before it is finalised later this month.

Currently the 2012/13 strategy plan suggests that there will be no short-term museum closures but it is asking volunteers and paid staff to help keep them running.

Hampshire county councillor Keith Chapman will be asked to approve the future direction of the museum service, which has already been subject to public and staff consultations, on Friday, January 20.

The plan comes at a time when the county council has to address an eight per cent cut in its budget for the next two financial years.

The plan also proposes that Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council’s Arts and Heritage and Winchester City Council’s Museums team up to form a charity which would run all three services.

It is being described as the Fully Integrated Merger (FIM) option.

Cllr Keith Chapman said: ‘The draft plans are being scrutinised by the select committee so that the best possible proposals reach me at my decision day before I agree to anything.

‘The Fully Integrated Merger looks a very exciting opportunity and I will be keen to ensure that if we take this route our staff are fully consulted.’