Staff working for Salford Community Leisure met last week and have vowed to oppose cuts to the city's heritage services, which includes four redundancies, partial closure of Salford City Art Gallery and Museum and Ordsall Hall, and a move to an appointment-only service at the Local History Library – on the Peel Park site of the UK's first unconditionally free library.
Salford Community Leisure (SCL), which manages what's left of Salford Council's culture service, is currently attempting to downgrade the significance of the Library on its website, stating…
"Public libraries have been around since the 19th century. Salford boasts the first unconditionally free public library in the United Kingdom, which opened at Peel Park in 1850. But this heritage and history does not always help when we are trying to change people's perceptions and raise the profile of 21st century libraries that today provide much more than books…"
According to Salford City UNISON, which represents SCL staff, the well used Local History Library will have just one employee when the cuts are implemented, which means it "will have to reduce to an appointment-only service".
Meanwhile, the Memories Matter service will close. This fantastic service, which helps older people remember old Salford and aids those struggling with the onset of dementia, lends boxes, exhibitions and picture packs to over 300 organisations working with an estimated 5,500 people in the city.
Other cuts include…
The loss of LifeTimes Link, the local history publication which has around 300 subscribers, with about 18,000 people accessing the current online version and 12,000 people a month accessing online past issues.
The end of support for local history groups and societies
The end of interpretation and support for exhibitions in the LifeTimes Gallery and the end of access to LifeTimes photographic and oral history collection.
As previously reported in Salford Star (see here), Ordsall Hall and Salford Museum and Art Gallery will shut for one day per week, meaning a loss of visits and vital heritage learning for school kids. This, despite a £6.5million refit of Ordsall Hall, designed to increase accessibility and visitor numbers. Now private weddings are to be hosted on Fridays, with the Hall shut to the public (see here).
Meanwhile, SCL already has a notice on its website concerning Salford Art Gallery and Museum… "From Monday 13 May 2013 our opening hours will change. The museum and gallery will be closed every Monday…"
Salford City UNISON has issued the following statement…
"After news of the planned implementation broke, Salford Unison SCL Unison members met last week and agreed to oppose these cuts and consider action to defend these jobs and services.
"Salford City Unison is extremely disappointed that Salford Community Leisure, Salford City Council's Chief Executive, Barbara Spicer, and the Mayor have ignored our request for a full public consultation. Over a thousand people have signed petitions to oppose reductions in service at Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Ordsall Hall but they have been ignored.
"In fact, incredibly the responses from the Mayor and the Chief Executive pretend there is no reduction in service, despite the fact that four workers face redundancy, others cuts in hours, and both the buildings will be closed for one day a week."
* Ordsall Hall has been selected as a finalist in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category of the prestigious Visit England Awards for Excellence 2013 - let's hope the judges don't turn up on a Friday when the Hall is closed for private weddings!
See also previous Salford Star article on the Heritage Cuts…
* Ordsall Hall To Shut as SCL Fat Cats Cash In – click here