Concerns over archaeology and archive plans

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CONCERNS have been raised over plans to create a new organisation to run Suffolk County Council’s archaeology and archive services.

Suffolk Local History Council says it is ‘very concerned about the viability’ of the proposals, which could see the services operate under one roof at the Museum of East Anglian Life.

The organisation, which is an umbrella for groups that encourage and support the study of local history, said: “We believe that it is wrong to expect a newly formed charitable trust to undertake a radical reorganisation requiring significant capital investment for which as yet there is no guaranteed funding but with responsibility for finding an alternative way forward should adequate finance for the whole project not be obtained.”

Their response was given during the county council’s two-month consultation on the plans, which could also see a new heritage centre built at the Stowmarket museum.

The services are currently spread across the county including in Bury St Edmunds and council bosses say the move is necessary as archive repositories will be full in 2016. Current storage for archaeology collections does not meet national standards.

In the consultation, 861 responses to a survey were received plus 21 written responses. Overall, 61.3 per cent were in favour of a new heritage organisation.

In their response, the Friends of the Suffolk Record Office said they were ‘supportive’ of the new organisation ‘despite some reservations’. They felt that the council should ‘regularly monitor the quality of provision’.

Cllr Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for archaeology, said the plans would create access to ‘wider sources of support’. He added: “There has to be significant investment because the collections are growing.”

The plans will be discussed by the council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday.