Consultation over future record office facility slammed as 'worthless' by campaign group
PUBLISHED: 16:21 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:21 18 September 2018
A campaign group has branded a consultation over the future archive facility in north Suffolk as "worthless".
Save Our Record Office (SORO), a group set up earlier this year when the proposed closure of the Lowestoft Record Office was announced, criticised Suffolk County Council’s handling of the consultation.
As it stands, some archives and records from the Lowestoft Record Office will be moved to the new £20m archive facility in Ipswich, called The Hold.
Which records are kept in the town and what sort of facility remains in Lowestoft will be the subject of the planned public consultation, but Suffolk County Council have refused to consult on building a new strong room facility in the town.
The campaign group accused the council of watering down the consultation.
Bob Collis, chairman of the group, said: “Retaining the archives in Lowestoft has now been removed from the consultation after it had already got under way.
“We know where the ‘revised service’ will be located and what will be in it.”
He added: “Digitising the collections is now going to be left to the Suffolk Record Office archivists, so the whole of this so-called consultation process is in reality a totally worthless exercise in rubber-stamping a decision that has already been taken.”
The comments from SORO follow the announcement of £414,763 of grant funding from the Coastal Communities Fund for The Hold, to be built in the University of Suffolk campus in Ipswich.
That grant follows funding of £997,901 last year to aid Waveney District Council in the creation of the East of England Park, to include Ness Point and the north beach.
Paul West, cabinet member with responsibility for heritage on Suffolk County Council, said: “We are grateful for the feedback we received from our pre-engagement with residents and interested parties and this has been taken into account when developing plans for the transformed service.
“The new service will be staffed and we have worked closely with senior archivists to keep many of the most well-used collections in Lowestoft.”
The council said they will consult on opening hours, events and activities, collections and digitisation, and volunteering opportunities.
Mr West added: “We want to see a thriving archive service for north-east Suffolk which reflects the way that people would like to access information and provides exciting new events and learning opportunities.
“The public consultation which will start this month, will seek views on proposals for the transformed service.”