Friday, October 28, 2011

Museum or not museum? That is the drop in question!

On the front page of the Hunts Post there is a piece on the Town Council dropping the proposed Drop In Centre for the St Neots Museum to extend its operations. During his reign former Town Mayor, Gordon Thorpe, raised £2,500 for the Drop In Centre. In the article Gordon said: "I'll be very disappointed if we can't get this off the ground after 2 years of planning."

So what of the Drop in Centre. After 2 years of planning and Gordon Thorpe raising £2,500 what has been raised by the Drop in Centre project. The briefing by Ms Stocker-Gibson at the Neighbourhood Forum on 25th July 2011 is very telling:
I take from this that the Youth Drop in Centre has no other money than Gordon's £2,500 and then only if the project goes ahead.

On the otherhand we have the museum. According to the 2010 Museum accounts, the museum currently gets a £30,000 grant from the Town Council and the Town Council receives back £6,000 in rent. A net figure of £24,000 to the museum. It also has £102k in the bank. Over the last 5 years the museum has made a small loss or last year a small profit.

Therefore the question before the Town Council is either lease the annex to a Drop in Centre with hardly any money or to a Museum which relies on Town Council money to keep going and has £102k in the bank.

If the Drop in Centre had come forward with a business plan which had guaranteed sources of money I would go for the Drop in Centre. From the briefing on 25th July 2011 to the Neighbourhood Forum it seems the Drop in Centre has neither the money for the venue or money to run the project.

Therefore it must be the museum that gets the annex. Whilst the museum can afford to do something with the annex the net £24,000 grant must either stay the same, in cash terms, or be reduced. It is no use allowing the museum to expand and then expecting the Town Council to pick up higher lease costs.

This must be the start of weaning the Museum off the Town Council subsidy over a period of time, say 10 years.

As for Gordon Thorpe et al complaining about this decision, well you were in power until May 2011 and you didn't do the deal with the Drop in Centre. It looks like 2 years in planning were wasted because the money wasn't there in the first place. Just because Gordon Thorpe raised £2,500 for this project doesn't mean the project should go ahead with more public money. If Gordon had raised say £250,000 for the Drop in Centre the decision would have to be different.

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