Concerns after fewer people visit museum than expected

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CHICHESTER’S new £7m museum has come under fire for not paying its way after expected visitor numbers failed to materialise.

Just under 11,000 people visited The Novium in its first six months – with 640 visitors in December.

The museum, in Tower Street, opened last July and replaced the former one in Little London, Chichester.

Michael Woolley, a councillor for Chichester City Council, said: ‘I can assure you the Novium does not pay its way.’

He said the district’s council taxpayers will be left footing the bill, estimating the £7m Novium’s running costs were around £500,000 a year – making the cost per visitor £23.43.

Around 60,000 people a year were originally hoped for when the museum opened.

But the district council has said visitors were up by more than 60 per cent on the old museum, and a range of new initiatives would soon be paying off.

A spokeswoman for Chichester District Council said: ‘In December 2012, almost double the number of people visited the Novium than had visited the old museum and we had an excellent response to our special events.

‘However, all attractions expect to see a drop in figures around this time of year.’

She added: ‘The merger of the Tourist Information Centre and the museum is new and we are trying different approaches to encourage as many customers as possible.’

Admission is £7 or £6 for concessions.