Town Council Welcomes Records Office Progress
Barnstaple Town Council has today (8 September) hailed progress towards a deal that is expected to save North Devon Records Office from closure.
The principles of a deal were agreed at a meeting between Town and County Councillors and other local organisations. At the meeting Devon County Council, which is responsible for heritage services in the county, warned that the current funding for the Records Office was only guaranteed until October 2015. They had already announced plans to consider moving its contents to its other office in Exeter. Following constructive discussion, the County and the South West Heritage Trust which runs the Records Office under contract, have agreed the outline of an agreement that will secure funding in the short term. This will provide much needed breathing space for the Town Council, North Devon Athenaeum and other local organisations to help develop a long-term plan to retain the facility.
The discussions followed a strong motion passed by Town Councillors in June, calling on the County Council to involve them in looking at alternatives to closure, and giving its support for the ‘Save North Devon Records Office’ campaign and petition. Town Mayor Cllr Mrs Val Elkins said “The meeting today was a very important step towards saving the Records Office and I am pleased that Barnstaple Town Council’s campaigning efforts seem to be working. As we have already shown with highway grass cutting, the Town Council is a strong voice for the community and whilst we understand the financial pressures facing the County Council, we can work with them to protect important local services. As well as keeping records charting our heritage back to the 10th century, the Records Office provides a valuable service to the community in researching family history, and we are determined that this service will remain available locally. I want to thank the County Council for recognising the part we can play in achieving this aim.”
The County Council has agreed to oversee further development of both the short and long term agreements, and it is expected that another meeting will be held before the end of September.
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