The Gazette is calling on the people of Ilkley to act now before the town’s treasured museum and art gallery is confined to a place in the history books.
Bradford Council is poised to agree a cost-cutting budget for the next two years on February 20, and among the savings currently proposed are drastic cuts to the Manor House Museum.
A further meeting is to take place late next week in earnest, as the district authority seeks to transfer the museum to a community management scheme.
But unless a willing benefactor or management committee is found, and a plan drawn up very rapidly, the historic building on Castle Yard could be closed, leaving the area without a valuable visitor attraction.
And should a community management scheme be drawn up in time, it could still be bad news for the many pieces of local heritage stored and exhibited at the Manor House, as museum accreditation may be lost, resulting in pieces of Ilkley’s history being taken away.
Chairman of supporter’s group Friends of the Manor House, John Cockshott said the time to object will not come when Bradford’s proposals are ratified - it is now, while its budget proposals are out to public consultation.
Mr Cockshott describes the Manor House as a “hidden gem”, held in great affection by those who know it.
“We therefore urge people to have their say with Bradford now rather than take the risk that no sustainable community management group will emerge. The term mothballing has been used, on the way to possible closure.”
And he highlighted the role of the museum in helping local schoolchildren learn about Roman history, which is receiving new prominence in the history curriculum.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for employment skills and culture, said: “The meeting on January 30 is the third in a series of working meetings between Bradford Council and interested parties to explore with them the potential for local groups to take over the management of the Manor House Museum.
“We are only at the proposal stage and therefore no decision about the future of the museum will be made at the meeting.
“The Government is cutting Bradford’s budget by £115 million over the next 3 years. This is one of the proposals which the Council is having to bring forward to meet these unprecedented budget demands.”
Members of the public can visit bradford.gov.uk/surveys/2014-2016Budget/budget_consultation_2014_2016.htm to comment on the budget proposals online, or visit the council website follow the “have my say” button.
A written comment with name and address can be sent to: Freepost RTLC-KEGA-JGRX Bradford Council, Budget Consultation Britannia House Hall Ings Bradford BD1 1HX.