Are county's historic archives for sale? Council denies speculation

The Hive, in Worcester, where the archives are based

The Hive, in Worcester, where the archives are based

First published in News Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

CLAIMS Worcestershire's UK-leading archives could be sold to private investors are being refuted by council chiefs - despite one politician saying "speculation is rife" it could go.

Councillor Richard Udall, chairman of the county council's Labour group, wants assurances the future of the 12-miles worth of treasured archives will stay in-house.

He says his fears over the asset's future, which is based at the £60 million Hive, are growing because of the need to save money.

The library's archives and archaeology service is already having its funding slashed by 60 per cent, with opening hours cut from 50 hours a week to 25.5 earlier this year.

Staffing also reduced from 25 roles to 20, and a two-hour staffing slot for people using the self-service facilities on a Sunday was scrapped.

Worcestershire's 12 miles of historic archives are among the best in the UK and only one of six nationwide to win 'national accreditation' status.

The council is drawing up cuts of around £25 million per year for the foreseeable future, and is looking to commission as many services as possible to outside providers.

Cllr Udall says he fears the archives are vulnerable due to their value.

He said: "The archives are a key Worcester attraction - people come from all over the world to study documents and make enquiries about family and local history.

"Speculation is rife that the service is about to be either commissioned, sold off or privatised - this should horrify anybody cares about our history.

"We need to know that the archives will remain in safe hands and not sold off to the highest bidder, some things in Worcester should not be for sale and that should include our history, culture and heritage.

"The council need to come clean, we need to know their plans, we need to know our history is not for sale."

The Conservative leadership has insisted it is not looking for any offers for the archives.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for localism and communities, said: "As with all services, we are facing reducing funding and are targeting more and more grants for specific areas.

"But the archives are not for sale, I've heard of no speculation and there are no plans to commission it.

"Our archives are nationally recognised as being at a very good standard."

Comments (6)

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2:17pm Fri 8 Aug 14

CJH says...

This absolutely cannot happen! It's OUR history they would be selling off and they can't be allowed to do it. Heaven alone knows what would happen to it if it falls into the hands of a private company. We almost certainly would not have free access to as we do now. What on earth is wrong with this damned council?
This absolutely cannot happen! It's OUR history they would be selling off and they can't be allowed to do it. Heaven alone knows what would happen to it if it falls into the hands of a private company. We almost certainly would not have free access to as we do now. What on earth is wrong with this damned council? CJH
  • Score: 6

2:38pm Fri 8 Aug 14

nantycoed says...

I visit this great record office everytime i visit Worcester it is one of the best collection i have seen.Dont throw away your history.
Dave Spain
I visit this great record office everytime i visit Worcester it is one of the best collection i have seen.Dont throw away your history. Dave Spain nantycoed
  • Score: 6

6:53pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Mike5305 says...

There is nothing, literally nothing that the current WCC administration would not privatise if the opportunity presented itself. Don't take denials on face value.
There is nothing, literally nothing that the current WCC administration would not privatise if the opportunity presented itself. Don't take denials on face value. Mike5305
  • Score: 2

7:31am Sat 9 Aug 14

js says...

If this should happen then I hope all parishes & other organisations whose records reside in the archives reclaim them rather than have them sold off. And perhaps state their intent now rather than waiting for the deed to be done.
If this should happen then I hope all parishes & other organisations whose records reside in the archives reclaim them rather than have them sold off. And perhaps state their intent now rather than waiting for the deed to be done. js
  • Score: 2

8:48am Sat 9 Aug 14

brooksider says...

They did sell off over £100,000 of rare books, many of them gifted to the City, before transferring to the Hive so why should we believe anything is safe?
They did sell off over £100,000 of rare books, many of them gifted to the City, before transferring to the Hive so why should we believe anything is safe? brooksider
  • Score: 3

11:02am Sat 9 Aug 14

Jabbadad says...

Under the CONservatives anything they can get their grubby little hands on in Worcestershire is up for Sale. And then in doing so they are creating / helping the new Landlords of such properties to lease them back to the Councils if and when needed.
Just like staff that have been made redundant being re-hired on temporary but higher value contracts even Zero Hours.
Of course we beleive you Lucy.
There is little to demonstrate prudence in the actions of the CONservatives, just a redistribution of wealth, but never to the less well off who arent on their radar just the incomes generated, and which services they can stop / reduce.
Under the CONservatives anything they can get their grubby little hands on in Worcestershire is up for Sale. And then in doing so they are creating / helping the new Landlords of such properties to lease them back to the Councils if and when needed. Just like staff that have been made redundant being re-hired on temporary but higher value contracts even Zero Hours. Of course we beleive you Lucy. There is little to demonstrate prudence in the actions of the CONservatives, just a redistribution of wealth, but never to the less well off who arent on their radar just the incomes generated, and which services they can stop / reduce. Jabbadad
  • Score: 0

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