Council stands by Usher Gallery proposals, despite 800 strong rejection

Lincolnshire County Council has reaffirmed its view that the Usher Gallery in Lincoln should become an events venue and Coroner’s Court, acknowledging that over 800 people rejected the idea in a recent consultation.

Meanwhile, it will consider interest from two local trusts in taking on the venue.

Any changes to the building’s use would need to be approved by the owner, the City of Lincoln Council, which has previously stated its position that the asset “should not be touched“.

The county council shared proposals for heritage services across the county which would include a £4 million investment and save the authority £750,000 a year.

The element which sparked the most public interest was the Usher changes and rebrand of The Collection museum to maximise use and visitor appeal of both buildings.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Results of the consultation were revealed on Wednesday, July 17.

Some 827 people said they were against the changes suggested for The Collection and Usher Gallery.

The council has said that despite the “passionate minority” who want to keep the gallery as it is, it will continue to recommend it is used as a registration, celebration venue and coroner’s court instead.

It will also be open to interest shown by the Usher Gallery Trust and the Historic Lincoln Trust in taking on the gallery.

The results of the recent consultation on heritage services are to be discussed ahead of a decision by the council’s executive next week.

In total, 1,104 people shared their views on the plans during the 10-week consultation.

During this time, hundreds signed an online petition and protesters marched through the city to ‘save’ the gallery. 

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for heritage, said: “We know there’s a passionate minority who want to keep the Usher Gallery as it is, but we have to take the decision that’s best for the county as a whole.

“So using the building as a base for the registration, celebratory and coroner’s service remains the recommendation.

Councillor Nick Worth. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

“That said, the Usher Gallery Trust and Historic Lincoln Trust have shown an interest in taking on the gallery and we are open to that.

“So while things are moving forward, we will continue our discussions with them to see if they can come up with a workable proposal.

“At the same time, it is recommended that the changes planned for our other heritage sites are put in place, including the return of Gainsborough Old Hall to its owner, English Heritage.

“Of course, any changes at the Usher Gallery would need to be approved by the gallery’s owner, the City of Lincoln Council.

“If the city council blocks both options currently on the table, they would need to come up with alternative plans to avoid closure of the building altogether as under the proposals we would be handing back to them responsibility for their collections.

“We look forward to receiving the comments of the Scrutiny Committee on the proposals.”

The results of the consultation will be discussed by the council’s Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, July 23.

Please note this scrutiny meeting will take place at the Emergency Planning Centre, South Park Avenue, Lincoln LN5 8EL. The meeting is open to members of the media and the general public.

A final decision on the future of the council’s heritage services is expected to be made by the executive on Tuesday, September 3.