Northamptonshire Archives revises plans to cut opening hours

By Rosemary Collins, 4 August 2017 - 1:01pm

The council has now said it will offer free access in the afternoons as well, but will conduct a review of the service in the coming months


Thousands signed an online petition protesting the decision

Northamptonshire County Council has partially revised controversial plans to cut opening hours and introduce significant access charges at the county record office.

Last week, Northamptonshire Archives and Heritage Service announced that it would cut free opening hours to 9am-1pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 9am-4pm on the first Saturday of the month in April to October, with the option to pay £31.50 an hour to access the archives from 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm on Mondays and Fridays.

However, the council has now released a statement saying that the archive will also be open for free from 2pm-5pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 9am-1pm on the first Saturday of the month throughout the year.

This essentially maintains the archive’s current opening hours, although it will be closed from 1pm-2pm.

The council added that visitors could “continue to book 1-2-1 time with our Research Assistant during the times we are otherwise closed” at a rate of £31.50 an hour.

Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, said: “Having listened to the views of our service users here in Northamptonshire and across the UK, a decision has been made to reconsider the proposed changes to opening hours.”

However, he added that in light of “significant financial challenges, changes to customer behaviour and a growth in online enquiries”, the council would review the service in the coming months as part of its annual budget process. He promised “a full public consultation” ahead of any changes being implemented.

The decision to cut opening hours at Northamptonshire Archives led to local and national outcry. An online petition protesting the changes currently has 3,634 signatures.

Sharon Grant, chair of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), wrote to Cllr Heather Smith, leader of Northamptonshire County Council, urging the council to reconsider the “drastic cuts” and criticizing it for not conducting “any form of public consultation”.

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