There has been a warm welcome from Moray’s MSP following a local authority U-Turn over the proposed closure of the Falconer Museum in Forres.
Moray Council had planned to close the museum for six months from October, pending a review of the way the popular attraction was run in the Spring of 2014 with a view to handing over control to the voluntary group ‘Friends of the Falconer Museum’.
However, amid growing fears that such a closure would end up being permanent, representatives from the voluntary group met with Richard Lochhead to seek his assistance.
The Moray MSP wrote to Moray Council expressing his concerns and seeking clarification on the situation, asking them to drop their plans to close the museum over the winter in light of the ‘growing demand’ for the services it offers to both its local community and visitors to the region.
Now the leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, has confirmed that the museum will remain open throughout the winter months, citing issues over the transfer of the museum as being due to “unforseen delays”.
Councillor Wright said: “The Friends have identified that keeping the museum open during the winter months will allow them to attract more potential volunteers, while still being able to carry out the detailed planning for the transfer.
“We are pleased to make this possible within the budget available – we look forward to an early submission from the Friends to allow us to work together.”
Welcoming the decision, Mr Lochhead said: “I am delighted that the decision has been taken to allow the museum to remain open, this will remove many of the concerns felt by the Friends of the Falconer Museum and allow them to progress towards a long-term solution over the future of this attractive and highly important resource.
“Heritage tourism has correctly been identified as of vital importance to the Moray economy and the Falconer is certainly a major attraction, as demonstrated by the increasing number of visitors it has enjoyed in recent years.”
Mike Scott-Wood, chairman of the Friends, said that the museum remaining open was their most immediate and pressing concern. He added: “Once something closes it is the kiss of death.
“I’m grateful that the council has listened to us and accepted our arguments – this is a step in the right direction but there is a long fight ahead to ensure that the museum continues to attract visitors.”
The Friends of the Falconer Museum are seeking volunteers to help ensure the future of the attraction, and are asking in particular for people with IT skills to contact them on 01309 673701.