Council announces consultation on future of record office after 5,000 people support campaign to save it
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A public consultation will be held over the future of Lowestoft's record office after a campaign against the closure attracted more than 5,000 signatures of support.
The news, announced by Suffolk County Council today, follows on from a decision last month 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.
A campaign group - Save Our Record Office (SORO) - was formed to fight the changes, led by friends Trudie Jackson and Janis Kirby.
The campaign has seen more than 5,000 people pledge their support to saving the service, and has recently received the backing of television star and historian Sir Tony Robinson, who sent a message of support to the group.
The formal consultation is expected to start in late spring, with pre-consultation work getting under way next month.
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Mrs Jackson said: 'We are really pleased that everything SORO asked for is now happening. It's great news and it shows what can happen when you get enough people showing their support.'
Suffolk County Council said the storeroom in the current record office building is not sustainable to continue holding Lowestoft's archive material. It said its basement location means that it is prone to flooding and damp hazards, at risk of mould growth and fire resistance is not up to the required standard.
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This, along with the general decline in visitors and the council's ongoing requirement to make savings in line with its objectives to fill the budget gap of £56m by 2021, means that changes need to be made to the service in Lowestoft.
Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for health, said: 'We have listened to concerns raised by local residents and as a result we will be formally consulting on the future of the Record Office service in Lowestoft. We will be meeting with local historians and interested parties over the coming weeks to form proposals for the future of the service, with the view of the formal consultation beginning late spring.
'Our priority remains the safeguarding and preservation of Suffolk's archives in the best possible conditions for the use of current and future generations.'
The results of the formal consultation will be presented to the county council's cabinet committee later in the year for a final decision to be made on the future service provision.
For further details of the consultation process, visit www.suffolkarchives.co.uk
The petition can still be signed online at www.change.org/p/tony-goldson-save-our-record-office and you can also show your support by joining the Save Our Record Office (SORO) Facebook group.