Council pledges to find ‘long-term’ solution for record office

Janis Kirby and Trudie Jackson campaigning against the record office closure.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Janis Kirby and Trudie Jackson campaigning against the record office closure. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The fight to save Lowestoft Record Office has been given renewed vigour after councillors pledged to support a 'long-term' and 'sustainable' solution to keep archives in the town.

In January, Suffolk County Council (SCC) announced plans to replace the record office based at Lowestoft library with an unmanned access point by the end of 2019 and move the archives currently stored there into a multi-million pound facility in Ipswich.

Although plans to close the facility were first discussed in 2014, those using the record office had no idea this was the case.

And following the announcement the Save Our Record Office (SORO) campaign was born.

With co-founders Trudie Jackson and Janice Kirby collecting signatures against the decision, and others joining to raise awareness, the initiative quickly gained support across the community.

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Earlier today Mrs Jackson presented a petition, signed by more than 7,000 people, to a full meeting of Suffolk County Council at its Ipswich headquarters.

Speaking at the meeting, she said: 'We want a reversal of the decision and a public consultation.

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'We still want a full record office service to remain in the local area for local people.'

Mrs Jackson explained that upon hearing of the plans to close the record office members of the community were left feeling 'disregarded and disrespected'.

County councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw also spoke in support of the petition.

She said: 'SCC seems to be focusing on what is good for Ipswich, right at the bottom of the county, without consideration for the largest town in the north of the county - which is cut off by a huge rural buffer.'

Councillor Matthew Hicks responded to the petition on behalf of the council and outlined its intentions to 'develop a fully funded and sustainable Lowestoft office'.

While this is welcome news for campaigners, Mr Hicks did admit the council currently has 'no capital or revenue budget committed to a proposal' but will 'seek funding to help develop it.'

The council previously said changes needed to be made at the record office as the current conditions in the basement strongroom do not meet the new National Archive standards and the location means that it is at risk of flooding.

The council will be holding a public consultation in the coming months and Mr Hicks said plans will then be put in place to find 'a long-term solution for the sustainable storage of archives in the north of the county'.

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