Apology for Friends of Falconer Museum – but no funding reprieve

Falconer Museum

Councillors had to apologise after keeping a community group in the dark over plans to transfer a museum into community hands.

Wednesday’s Full Council meeting was presented with their first petition since the system whereby a member of the public and direct an appeal to councillors was introduced at the behest of Labour councillor Barry Jarvis last year.

The petition was put by Fay Gwilliams of the Friends of the Falconer Museum, who was calling on Moray Council to rethink their decision in February to cut funding to the highly popular museum from £227,000 to just £94,000.

Following that decision Libraries and Museums manager Alistair Campbell met with the Friends of Falconer Museum to discuss the possibility of their taking over responsibility for the running of the Museum.  In follow up meeting with other council officers it was indicated that a Community Asset Transfer might be a way forward – however, it later emerged that would not be possible due to issues connected with Moray Council’s ownership of the museum collections and buildings.

Council officials did not notify the Friends of that decision however – leading to an apology having to be issued by Council chief executive Roddy Burns.

Reporting to the Council at Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Campbell said: “At this point excellent work is being done between my staff and the Friends in taking forward proposals.”  These would lead to the Friends taking over the day to day running of the museum while ownership would remain in the hands of Moray Council.

Earlier this year the Friends met with Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead seeking his intervention over the lack of information being received from Moray Council and their plans to close the museum over the winter.  That resulted in the closure decision being withdrawn.

Councillors declined to reverse their budget decision.

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