LCC: ‘If city council wants to run the Usher Gallery we’ll consider it’

The executive councillor in charge of heritage services at Lincolnshire County Council has said he’s “surprised” by the City of Lincoln Council’s objection to proposals for the Usher Gallery.

Councillor Nick Worth suggested he would consider handing back responsibility for the running of the attraction to the city’s local authority as tensions grow over its future.

The city council, which owns the historical building and provides a lease to the county council, had been quiet about plans that would see the space used for weddings, events, a small art space and to house Coroner’s Court.

Up to £4 million in external funding would be sought in the heritage shake-up to create a new exhibition space at The Collection Museum, where much of the existing works at the Usher would be relocated.

County councillors said the move would bring more visitors to The Collection and put the two buildings “to better use”.

They also argue they would be able to save around £750,000 a year of public money.

Today, city council leader Ric Metcalfe formally responded to the heritage review.

He said: “We believe it is important to keep the Usher Gallery for the purpose it was originally designed, remaining true to the bequest of James Usher.”

Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for heritage services at Lincolnshire County Council, told The Lincolnite: “We’ve been in discussions with the City of Lincoln Council, who own the gallery and 49% of the art collection, about future plans for a number of months.

“I’m a little surprised they’ve taken such a firm stance now, before hearing all the views of the public.

“If they wanted to take direct responsibility of running the Usher Gallery, we would consider it.

“We will, of course, take their letter into account along with the all other comments from the consultation.

“We are still welcoming comments from the public until the consultation period ends on April 24.”

Thousands of local residents have spoken out against the plans with almost 3,000 committing their signature to a petition to stop them.

Full details on the proposals and a link to an online survey can be found at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/heritageconsultation. Alternatively, people can request these in a different format by emailing [email protected] or calling 01522 782040.