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Hereford Library 31 Broad St Project On Hold

Denise Lloyd

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Hereford 21st September 2017: Members of the Hereford Library Users Group and the many supporters of the 31 Broad Street project deeply regret that the work on the '31 Broad Street Project' has had to be put on hold due to unforeseen circumstances.

The Herefordshire Council, together with the Museum Support group, have chosen to go ahead with a consultancy project into the future of the museum service, which cuts across the next stages in the work of the 31 Broad Street group.

The project to re-imagine and redevelop the building on Broad Street has always been predicated on including both the Library and Museum. Regrettably this will mean that it will not be possible to meet the deadline set by the Cabinet of the Council for the 31 Broad Street team to come back with worked up plans and a satisfactory business plan by May 2018. Nor is it possible to raise any further funds from grants or charitable donations to support its work due to the uncertainty that has been created by the museum project.

Les Watson, the chair of HLUG and the project leader for 31 Broad Street says “The 31 Broad Street group has worked very hard over the past 14 months, with consultancy support, to establish that it is feasible, and affordable to develop the Library and Museum building on Broad Street and that people want this to happen. For the Council to initiate a project that will explore alternative futures for the Museum at this stage completely undermines this work and makes a mockery of the considerable effort expended by the volunteers involved."

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I am really sorry to hear about this. We must remember that this is the same Herefordshire Council who had so many plans and competitions for the Hereford Buttermarket to be refurbished none of which came to anything, as they had no money after giving away the Old Cattle market site.  The Buttermarket got sold to a developer who has since sold it on again, no doubt at a profit.

I am just waiting for the For Sale sign on Broad St. Like the rest of the County the library to be moved to the Halo Leisure centre on Holmer road or the Hereford swimming baths. They need to make up the overspend on Blueschool House somehow, and selling Broad St should just about cover this last overspend. Problem is there wont be anything left to clear the next overspend.

This Council are ruining what little is left of all that was good in Herefordshire :(

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The press release from the Chair of Herefordshire Library Users Group was very odd and unexpected, as he had been kept informed about how plans were progressing for many months.  Something funny going on or a big misunderstanding. Things are not as they seem.


HMSSG News Bulletin - Update on the ‘Resilient Heritage’ project.  25 September 2017.


This Heritage Lottery funded project is now underway, with internationally respected consultants Prince and Pearce commissioned to investigate all feasible options for a sustainable future for Herefordshire Council’s Museum Service, in the light of the Council’s decisions on budgetary priorities. This investigation is being carried out with links to the other Council Cultural Services which are also being hit by funding cuts – the Archives Service and the Library Service – and their respective Support Groups, all of which will be involved in this project.  


The Museum Service consists of five inter-dependent aspects - the valuable County Heritage and Art Collections  (100,000 precious and fascinating objects that are held in trust for the people of Herefordshire); the specialist storage and learning centre at Friar St; the Black and White House in High Town; and the Museum and Art Display Galleries upstairs in Broad St; along with the various professional staff skills needed to meld everything together and enable the public to have access to the wonderful collections. 


This HLF Resilient Heritage project has been long in the planning  â€“ as has been reported in HMSSG Newsletters and through other channels since last year (2016).  It is a Herefordshire Council project in which HMSSG is a partner.  (HMSSG is a registered Charity consisting entirely of volunteers, which is committed to preserving the Collections and ensuring continued and improved public access to them.) This project is one among a number of steps  being undertaken by the Council to find best ways forward for all their Cultural Services, and HMSSG consider it to be  a responsible approach for a Local Authority to explore as wide a range of options as possible for the Services for which they are reducing or withdrawing funding.


The Resilient Heritage project is complementary to the 31 Broad St Development Group’s work to investigate the potential for re-developing the Library and Museum building in Broad St. Taking account of that work is among the priorities of the Resilient Heritage plan that was  submitted to HLF, and is part of the Consultants’ brief.  There is also an income generation strand to the Resilient Heritage  project which is looking into effective  fund-raising methods at a time when public Council funding is on the wane, led by experienced arts-sector income generation consultant Annabelle Elletson.


Significant and challenging changes are already underway for the County’s Cultural Services (Museum, Library, Archives) and this project will help to assess some realistic next steps to identify future models that will work.   It’s now an urgent question - how to ensure a future for the Museum Service and the other affected Services?  HMSSG is committed to working collaboratively with all Cultural stakeholders to work towards viable ways forward.


HMSSG Committee/Trustees

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I have learned this week that the continuing cuts to Museum staff mean that after the end of September, the main Museum above the Library can only be open if there are volunteers available. 


The Black and White House remains the main attraction, but almost all the extensive museum collections, that surely belong to all the people of Herefordshire, will remain out of view holed up in Friar St. for the foreseeable future. 

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