Nick Worth

Nick Worth

nickworth

Councillor Nick Worth is Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council and also Deputy Leader at South Holland District Council.


The county council is currently consulting on a proposed blueprint for the future of its heritage service. The element that has attracted most interest is our plans for the Usher Gallery, which was named after successful Lincoln businessman James Ward Usher.   

When Usher died in 1921, he left his art collection (predominantly watches and jewellery) to the Lincoln Corporation. He also bequeathed £60,000 towards the building of an art gallery and museum in which to house it. 

The gallery opened to the public in 1927, displaying Usher’s collection alongside other works by local, national and international artists.  

Sadly, this iconic building no longer meets the rigorous environmental and security standards that are now considered essential for displaying the most valuable exhibits and much of Usher’s collection is in storage as a result.

We still want art to remain within the Usher building, including a dedicated exhibition space on the ground floor, open to the public six days a week.

James Ward Usher was born in Lincoln in 1845. He was the eldest son of James Usher who opened a jewellers and watchmakers business on the High Street in 1837.

Paintings and sculptures will also be on display in many of the other rooms, although, in future, many of these areas will be used for our registration, celebration and coroners services. 

However, much of the time, the public will still be able to visit and enjoy these works as they do now.

These changes would be complemented by the creation of a major new exhibition space within The Collection Museum, for which we will be seeking £2-4m of external funding.

The Collection would then become home to some of the art currently in the Usher.

In addition, as the security and environmental conditions in the museum are significantly better than those across the road, it would allow us to display some of the art we can no longer show in the Usher.

An original Usher imp brooch. The Lincoln Imp jewellery not only brought Usher success with regard to his business but fame too.

And with this large, modern art space, we would also have a much better chance of attracting the major touring exhibitions that Lincolnshire presently misses out on. 

Currently, The Collection receives five times as many visitors as the Usher each year, and it’s our hope that this move will mean that more people have the chance to enjoy our fantastic art.

It’s our belief that these proposals are very much in keeping with the spirit of Usher’s legacy.

Of course, both the Usher Gallery and The Collection are owned by the City of Lincoln Council, so they would need to agree to these changes.

The Collection museum in Lincoln.

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.

We’re very much keeping an open mind and welcome any suggestions on the best way forward.

Councillor Nick Worth is Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council and also Deputy Leader at South Holland District Council.

For me, much of the last year has been taken up by the proposed changes to library services. Since the judicial review in the summer, work has been ongoing to cover all the points raised in the ruling.

This included additional consultation and further discussions with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), a not-for-profit organisation that is interested in running local library services.

Earlier this month, I accepted GLL’s revised expression of interest as a valid challenge under the Localism Act. That means services are now likely to be put out to tender, which could result in the libraries being outsourced.

However, before that happens, the Executive will need to decide what model of library service it wants to achieve. We expect that to happen in February. That decision will take into account all the feedback received during the consultation.

Throughout the autumn, we have spent a lot of time keeping voluntary groups in the loop, answering their questions and providing training and support as requested. Once we know the future shape of the library service, we’ll be able to give these groups greater clarity on how they might become involved with future services.

Lincoln's new Magna Carta vault will be ready in time for the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the document. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln’s new Magna Carta vault will be ready in time for the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the document. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Another area that has taken up a lot of time is the completion of the £22m Lincoln Castle Revealed project. Work remains on target to be finished in time for next year’s 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which we will be celebrating in style.

Once the new-look site re-opens in April, it will be the only place in the world with a permanent exhibition on Magna Carta, making it of international importance.

We have created an impressive new home for the document in the David P J Ross Magna Carta Vault, featuring a 180-degree cinema screen telling the story leading up to Magna Carta being sealed and how it relates to legislation and the freedoms we all enjoy today.

Visitors will also be able to make a complete circuit of the castle walls (which now have disabled access) and visit the newly revamped Victorian Prison, which includes exciting interactive elements.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

And everyone will be able to walk through the castle grounds free of charge for the first time.

There will be joint ticketing with the cathedral to enable visitors to enjoy the very best of Lincoln’s heritage, encouraging them to stay longer in the city, bringing benefits to both the city and county economies.

Meanwhile, the Historic Lincoln Trust, of which I am a trustee, is working hard on the Great Lincolnshire Exhibition. Opening in July, the event will showcase the county’s greatest art, sculpture and manuscripts, along with paintings of our most famous people.

The show will include internationally renowned exhibits from national collections and country houses and will be displayed at The Collection, Usher Gallery, the cathedral’s Wren Library and in the castle’s new vault.

This will be just one highlight in what will be a spectacular year for the county.

Councillor Nick Worth is Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council and also Deputy Leader at South Holland District Council.

Lincolnshire County Council is required to give further consideration to its proposed changes to local library services, as a result of the recent judicial review. That means some additional work will be needed over the coming months, for which detailed plans are currently being drawn up by officers.


Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, has made this statement at a meeting of the council’s Executive on September 2.


Under our initial proposal, 74% of Lincolnshire households would be able to reach a council-run library within 30 minutes by public transport, and there would be online and targeted services. These would be complemented by a non-statutory network of community hubs and mobile libraries.

This remains our preferred option, but we accept that there may be other ways to deliver the excellent and sustainable library service we want for local people.

Importantly, the court ruling showed that our preferred model would meet our legal duties, and any others put forward for consideration would need to meet this critical requirement.

They would also need to deliver the required savings.

Much of the additional work will be aimed at finding out what other options we should consider before making a new decision in the early months of 2015.

As ever, we will move forward with an open mind.

We have been impressed by the willingness of communities and volunteers to work with us to develop a network of community hubs in the county.

We believe these to be of great value, both now and in the future, and will continue to work closely with these volunteers over the coming months.

I’d also like to thank our hard-working staff for their continuing professionalism during this difficult time.

Broadly speaking, in order to address the issues raised during the judicial review, we will now need to take the following steps:

  • There will be a further period of consultation, starting in October, giving people the opportunity to suggest alternative models for a comprehensive and efficient library service.
  • We will have further discussions with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to understand the potential of their proposals, and expect to receive a revised expression of interest from them in October.
  • We will consider valid expressions of interest under section 81 of the Localism Act 2011, whether from GLL or elsewhere, in accordance with our formal Community Right to Challenge Scheme.

The result of receiving a valid expression of interest under the Community Right to Challenge Scheme might be a requirement to put the library service out to competition. In view of this possibility, we will start to make preparations for a possible future procurement process.

It is expected that the Executive will be asked to take a fresh decision on the future of the library service in February next year.

Councillor Nick Worth is Executive Member for Culture and Heritage at Lincolnshire County Council and also Deputy Leader at South Holland District Council.