Keighley museum’s future in doubt as city won’t take it on

Keighley Civic Centre. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Keighley Civic Centre. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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A YORKSHIRE town council’s plea for help in running a museum looks set to be rejected by a neighbouring authority.

Earlier this year Keighley Town Council asked Bradford Council to consider taking over Keighley’s Police & Forensic Science Museum because of concerns that the smaller authority does not have the legal authority to operate it.

The town council had hoped that the city council might take control and then grant it delegated powers to continue running the museum, which is based in the civic centre.

Following that request, the city council asked for detailed information about visitor figures, running costs, admission prices and numbers of staff and volunteers.

A full report is expected to be put before Bradford’s executive committee later this year, possibly in June.

The issues are being considered by officers including Dermot Pearson, the assistant city solicitor.

However, it has now emerged that Bradford is unlikely to be able to take over the museum in order to help out Keighley.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the city’s council’s executive member for employment, skills and culture, said Bradford wasn’t in a position to take on other visitor attractions.

She said the city already had its own police museum. It is located in City Hall, where council meetings are held.

Councillor Hinchcliffe said: “The council is not in a position to take on additional visitor attractions given the harsh Government cuts.

“We are an accredited Museum service and as such have to go through a rigorous examination process. We can’t take on other visitor attractions if they are not equally accredited. It could jeopardise the standing and therefore funding ability of our other museums.

“There’s already another Police Museum in the district. We would happily broker a meeting between the two museums to see if a sustainable partnership can be formed.”

The comments are a fresh blow to Keighley Town Council and come after the authority voted to close a shop, cafe and bar at the civic centre after council officers said they had received no clear guidance on whether the authority had a right to trade.

A vote on whether to temporarily close the police museum is expected to be taken at a town council meeting next month.

Tours of the police museum have been temporarily suspended as the town council considers what to do next.

A statement on the town council website said: “The museum tours in the civic centre are temporarily unavailable from 30 March 2015.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and will advise any changes when known. We thank you for your understanding.”

No-one was available to comment from the town council.

A spokesman for Keighley campaign group, Cavetown Council, said the town council appeared to be “trying everything it can” to get the shop, cafe and bar reopened.

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