Campaigners asked to leave as first stage of record office consultation starts
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The first stage of a public consultation into the future of Lowestoft Record Office got under way this week.
Pre-engagement meetings between Suffolk County Council - which plans to replace the facility with an unmanned access point by the end of 2019 - and local groups, stakeholders and other interested parties started on Monday and will come to a close today.
Local groups attending the meetings at the OrbisEnergy Centre included the Jack Rose Old Lowestoft Society and campaigners from SORO (Save Our Record Office).
However SORO members said there is already friction between them and the council after campaigners were asked to leave while handing out leaflets in the foyer.
Wendy Brooks, SORO treasurer said: 'The Orbis Centre staff were perfectly happy for us to stand in the foyer and hand out leaflets to the attending delegates, but then the council got wind of our presence and we were asked to leave.
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'Waveney MP Peter Aldous was also at the Orbis Centre and has pledged his support to the group. He has written to councillor Tony Goldson, the Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health who made the decision to close the facility, stating that he wants a full Record Office service retained in Lowestoft.'
The decision to close the record office, based at Lowestoft Library, was announced on January 10 and would see all of the archives currently stored there moved down to Ipswich.
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A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: 'We welcomed invited members of the Save Our Record Office group into the meeting at OrbisEnergy to be part of on-going discussions. As this is a multi-use building, used by other companies and individuals, remaining members of the group were asked to continue their protest outside the reception area, which they did from the steps outside the building.'
Since the announcement there has been massive opposition from local people and heritage groups and a combined 7,000 name petition is being handed in next month by SORO co-founders Trudie Jackson and Janis Kirby.
The outcome of the pre-engagement will form the proposals for a public consultation which is due to begin in late spring.
The results of the consultation will then be presented to Suffolk County Council's cabinet committee later in the year for a final decision to be made.