TRUSTEES have blasted suggestions that Otley Museum could be transformed into a national printing-based attraction – warning instead that it could be homeless within nine months.

The National Printing Museum idea was one of the main findings of a feasibility study, commissioned by the Town Council and presented last week.

But Otley Museum Trust has condemned the proposal as an unrealistic “non-starter” that does nothing to help its immediate problem of finding a new base before next Spring.

In its response to the council, the Trust also rejects the report’s suggestion on the grounds that: l It would unacceptably narrow the museum’s remit to focus on just one part of the town’s history l No evidence has been produced to show there is public demand for a national print museum l Its printing related collection does not have enough material to form the core of such a national attraction l The scheme would take years to achieve, but the museum needs urgent action to avoid becoming homeless next when a £3.3 million redevelopment of the Civic Centre – its current base – is due to begin in March.

Trust chairman and trustee Andrew Howard said: “We have indicated that the national printing museum is a non-starter and everybody needs to be a bit more realistic about what is possible.

“The museum tells the story of Otley as a community from prehistoric times to modern times. The printers’ engineers collection is only part of that.

“There is certainly not enough material to form the nucleus of a national printing museum.

"We are still no nearer to finding a base for next Spring. We have somewhere to store our main collection pieces but what we need is somewhere where our documentary collection would be available and to maintain a face to the community, so people don’t think we have closed down.

“We’re still looking. We have asked the town council for help but they don’t seem to have come up with anything.

“They say they’ve been helping but we need a realisation that we need to forget about things like creating a national printing museum - yes, let’s look for somewhere where we can put a much better and bigger museum, but one that’s sustainable and better placed to tell the story of Otley.

"The future of the museum is beginning to look quite uncertain. Comparable museums to Otley such as the Nidderdale Museum at Pateley Bridge or the Craven Museum at Skipton exist in local authority owned buildings, and therefore have little property costs.

“It seems that any future for Otley Museum would entail having to fund heavy property costs. It is time for the people of Otley to decide whether they want a local museum or not, and make their views heard.”