Lincolnshire heritage attractions face council funding axe

Councillors have supported plans to withdraw funding from heritage sites including Lincoln Castle and Gainsborough Old Hall, instead giving them control of their own finances.

As reported previously, the plans would see Lincolnshire County Council subsidies for seven heritage sites stopped by 2018, with sites instead being responsible for their income.

At present, income from attractions goes into the council’s corporate pot and given a budget.

Should the shakeup receive final approval, income would instead be retained by the heritage and archive service.

The council spends £2.3 million of taxpayers’ money on the service, but the county councillor in charge of culture and heritage services Nick Worth said he’s confident sites can sustain their own finances and work towards a surplus income.

The council’s archive and heritage service employs around 105 people and is responsible for seven sites:

  • Lincoln Castle
  • Museum of Lincolnshire Life
  • The Collection
  • Usher Gallery
  • Gainsborough Old Hall
  • Lincolnshire Archives
  • Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre
Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for culture and heritage, said: “It’s an exciting time for the heritage service. This new way of working is more commercially savvy.

“It will mean more freedom to generate income and the ability to reinvest income back into heritage.

“The council’s budget position is not going to improve. We’ve got an estimated budget shortfall of £74 million over the next three years, on top of the £145 million we’ve cut from the budget since 2010. It’s right that the heritage service plays its part.

“By giving the heritage service a target to fund itself, we’re saving the taxpayer money and keeping the attractions open.”

Nicole Hilton, communities commissioner, added: “This is an opportunity to look at things differently to keep our heritage service running.

“We’ve got a high quality offer and we’ve seen what can be achieved in the last 18 months, particularly at Lincoln Castle.

“We’re already on the radar for national companies, galleries and museums, who are approaching us more and more about significant exhibitions and events.

“I’m confident with the expertise we have in our service, and the quality of the attractions, we have a fighting chance of meeting our target to make enough money to fund ourselves by 2018.”