MP attacks county council over archive move decision
PUBLISHED: 15:26 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:36 09 August 2018
An MP has slammed Suffolk County Council’s decision to move archives out of Lowestoft prior to a public consultation on the future of the town’s record office.
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said it was “extraordinary” no one locally knew of the plans to close Lowestoft Record Office before January this year, and questioned whether the process behind the decision was “sound”.
He also called on the council to ensure the Record Office “in its entirety” should remain in the Lowestoft area.
He said: “I take the view that the County Council have badly let down the people of Lowestoft and Waveney and I find it extraordinary that no one locally was aware of these plans until early 2018.
“I do have to question whether the process whereby Suffolk County Council secured funding for the Hold in Ipswich was sound and I believe that this must be scrutinised as a matter of urgency.
“I see a refurbished Record Office as an important component part of a revitalised Lowestoft and I shall continue to prepare the case and campaign for this, responding to Suffolk County Council’s consultation accordingly.”
The decision will be scrutinised in a Joint Scrutiny meeting with Suffolk County and Waveney District councils represented, in Lowestoft later this year following the public consultation over the record office’s future, due to launch later this month.
Paul West, cabinet member for Ipswich, communities, and waste, and portfolio holder for the £20m archive project The Hold which will take some of Lowestoft’s records, said: “Since 2011 it has been clear that action would have to be taken to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Record Office Service in Suffolk, to continue to safeguard archives under national standards and it was understood it would cost a lot of money.
“The way forward was to bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the success of that bid for £10m.
“I think the decision was sound and this has been confirmed by the monitoring officer. I think the issues about timings ought to be a lesson learned for future projects because I think that more warning about the decision the better. I do think process has been followed but there is also a debate about how we can learn from this process when working on joint partnership projects in future.”