Portsmouth museum’s Monday closures to save £151,800 a year

MONDAY CLOSURE The City Museum in Museum Road,  Portsmouth
MONDAY CLOSURE The City Museum in Museum Road, Portsmouth
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OPENING hours of three museums will be cut from next month to save Portsmouth City Council cash.

City Museum, Dickens Birthplace and Cumberland House will be closed every Monday from July 4 in a bid to save running costs.

This is despite annual museum visitor figures reaching 250,000 in the past year– 16 per cent above the council’s target figure of 220,000.

The move, which will lead to redundancies and save £151,800 a year from the council’s culture budget, comes after the decision to close Portsmouth’s Central Library on Fridays.

The cuts plan was reported in The News but this is the first time the date has been announced.

Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: ‘Sadly staff hours are being reduced and some are being made redundant to find the savings we have to make towards the national budget deficit.’

The cuts form part of the city council’s drive to axe £15m from its budget in the next financial year, with the predicted loss of 180 staff.

Between six and 10 museum job losses are predicted, and will be confirmed once a consultation period finishes this week.

Critics say the move will mean a loss in commercial income from venue hire, as well as restricting the number of school visits to city museums.

Lindsay Williams, of Unison Portsmouth branch, warned the cuts didn’t make sense because many staff will still be working in the museums on a Monday, despite the public not being allowed in.

She said: ‘Those who won’t be losing their jobs will still be working as normal on Mondays.

‘Where does that make sense? The public will be outside wanting to come in.

‘But they have been told running costs are too high.’

The D-Day museum in Southsea will remain open seven days a week, while all sites will remain open on bank holidays.

The council said the move will mean no museums in the city will have to close permanently.

But Conservative councillor Alistair Thompson said the closures sent out the ‘wrong message’ to tourists and local people.

He said: ‘It’s saying to these people that our tourist industry is in affect closed on a Monday. To take out one day out of seven from our economy is ludicrous.

‘What happens if there is another round of cuts next year and a second day is axed from our museums?

‘The Conservative group disapproves very strongly with what the city council is doing.’