One year stay of execution for Manor House Museum

Friends of the Manor House have campaigned to keep the museum open. They are pictured outside the museum earlier this year

Friends of the Manor House have campaigned to keep the museum open. They are pictured outside the museum earlier this year

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The Manor House Museum and Art Gallery has been granted a 12-month stay of execution after Bradford Council accepted a deal put forward by Ilkley people to temporarily keep it in local authority hands.

The Council has agreed to keep funding staff at the Manor House for another year as part of its budget for 2014 to 2015, delaying original proposals to hand the museum’s entire management operation over to the community.

Supporters of the museum now have a year to come with a community management scheme if they hope to secure the future of the museum.

The Council confirmed the budget at its meeting last Thursday, accepting a deal put forward to continue staffing the museum, on Castle Yard, helped by local volunteers.

Ilkley Parish Council is to debate a £13,000 contribution to the deal at its next meeting on Monday. Parish councillors have already indicated support for the scheme.

But one of the leading campaigners for the museum, Friends of the Manor House chairman, John Cockshott, warned it will not be an easy task for the community to identify, draw up and find funding for a cohesive management plan in just a year.

He hopes the Council will continue to have some involvement with managing the building in future.

He said: “We are going to be working closely with Bradford. We’ve got over 50 volunteers now, they will have to be trained, but they will be able to work alongside the Council.

“We just have to see what happens. I’m aware the thinking is still going on.”

Mr Cockshott believes even getting a plan together in five years would be an ambitious if the Council also stops spending on maintenance of the building and insurance.

“The world is a very constrained placed, funding-wise, today,” he added.

Ward councillor, Mike Gibbons (Con, Ilkley) who is also Ilkley Parish Council chairman, was pleased to see the deal to ensure the Manor House will remain open was agreed by the full Council.

He said: “It’s now that the work starts. The situation needs to be resolved and a sustainable proposal needs to be placed before Bradford Council.”

At last week’s Council meeting, Executive member for Employment, Skills and Culture, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, thanked members of Ilkley Parish Council and the Friends of the Manor House for their actions in supporting the museum.

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