Plans to urge archives to stay local put in motion

27 Feb 2024

A motion to look for ways to keep archives local and ask Suffolk County Council to pause and look at all options before any irreversible changes made has been backed.

A meeting of West Suffolk Council heard how as part of budget savings the county council plans to move archives and records from Bury St Edmunds and East Suffolk to Ipswich.

The motion, which was tabled at the Council meeting held on 20 February, urged the county council to put on hold their plans while a solution is found.

It highlighted and recognised the financial pressures the county council is under to meet its duties. But the motion, which was backed by the majority of councillors, said that whatever funding was still available, or could be found from alternative sources, should be included in looking at options.

Councillors heard in the debate that the county council were setting up working groups and the invitation to work with partners was welcomed.

However, there were concerns that these working groups were only looking at how non-statutory items could be stored locally and this could see collections split up between the two towns.

A letter has now been sent on behalf of West Suffolk Council by the Leader Cliff Waterman to Suffolk County Council asking for the pause as set out in the motion.

Cllr Julia Wakelam, who proposed the motion said: “We need to act now as once these items are gone from this area they will be gone forever. We are just asking for Suffolk County Council to pause and look at all options as well as what budgets may be available to stop these important historic documents, items and archives from leaving the local area. Asking people to try and travel to Ipswich is wrong and means that many people will not be able to access their local history. The collections do not just cover West Suffolk but parts of Cambridgeshire too.”

Cllr Cliff Waterman, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: Cllr Cliff Waterman, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “This motion repeats our previous offer to meet and look at options for where the collection could still be housed locally. I was pleased to hear Dr Woods from Newmarket speak on the matter at the Council meeting and explain the importance of why local history must be kept locally. We all share the same aim in wanting to work for the benefit of our communities and provide the best services we can. I hope that the county council take this motion in the spirit that it is intended to work with us and other partners with an open mind and look at all options to find a solution.”

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