County council set to give notice on Usher Gallery

Lincolnshire County Council looks set to give notice on the Usher Gallery as part of a major shakeup of heritage services.

Senior councillors on the authority’s executive will be recommended to approve measures to give two years notice to City of Lincoln Council on its collections management at the gallery.

It means the collections at the Usher would be returned to the control of the city council and the current agreement would be terminated, but the authority would continue to lease and maintain the building.

The county council proposals come as part of a shakeup of its heritage services which it says will “improve its offer” and save money.

The council’s executive will vote on the plan at a meeting on September 3.

Plans to change the use of the Usher gallery sparked petitions and protests. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

As previously reported, the county council plans to convert the gallery for other uses while moving exhibitions to The Collection.

It’s also considering options like handing the building over to other organisations to operate.

The idea is that bigger exhibitions, such as dinosaur exhibitions and the recent Moon Museum, will pay for some of the smaller attractions in the region.

The plans received backing from councillors last month and paved the way for changes to the county’s heritage attractions.

But, hollowing proposals to change the use of the Usher, the city council warned that the collections may have to be moved out of the county.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

County councillors said that heritage services need to “offer more” and become “more commercially minded”.

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, leader of the city council, described the proposal as a “betrayal of the county’s rich heritage”.

The county council’s plans also look to make changes elsewhere in the county.

The plans for heritage services are as follows:

  • Usher Gallery – The council has proposed using the gallery as a events venue and coroners court and options such as handing over the service to a third party.
  • The Collection – Carry out work to the building to create “flexible space” in order to display a range of art and archaeology exhibitions.
  • Gainsborough Old Hall – Terminate the lease on the hall which ends in October 2020. The county council will stop managing and operating the site and hand it over to English Heritage.
  • Discover Stamford, Ellis Windmill, Burgh le Marsh Windmill and Alford Windmill – The county council will look to hand responsibility of these sites to another organisation.
  • Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors Centre and Heckington Windmill – All will be retained by the county council.

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