Businessman's pledge to save museum

A WORRIED Weston businessman has pledged to 'move heaven and earth' to save the town s museum if council bosses go ahead with a plan to close it.

A WORRIED Weston businessman has pledged to 'move heaven and earth' to save the town's museum if council bosses go ahead with a plan to close it.

Maintaining the area's heritage at the Burlington Street site is the aim for Richard Nightingale if an adequate replacement is not proposed by culture chiefs.

His statement came as it emerged culture bosses plan to move exhibits to new galleries in the Winter Gardens.

Mr Nightingale said: "If the alternative is that the museum at Burlington Street will close, something will need to happen and we would do everything to keep it open.

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"If it was an option between the museum closing or not closing, we would move heaven and earth to make sure that it stays open."

Mr Nightingale, who owns a removal firm, storage firm and estate agency, said he knows taking on the museum will be expensive.

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But he added that it was important for Weston to retain the Burlington Street building, which is earmarked for closure under North Somerset Council's plan.

A profit-making visitor attraction in a more prominent area of town is on the cards as bosses in the unitary authority's development and environment department aim to cut �2.5million over the next two years.

In an email to councillors this week, leader Nigel Ashton says he is leading the revamp of the museum service and the Winter Gardens is its intended destination.

According to his memo, it would feature permanent displays, temporary exhibitions, visitor information, a shop, caf� and a new entrance foyer with a reception, booking office and visitor information desk.

He said: "In the future, we want our residents and visitors to enjoy and experience a modern and efficient museum service - one which offers our fixed displays in new galleries at the Winter Gardens and a programme of touring exhibitions.

"I understand the concerns of some people, but I can assure them that the museum at Burlington Street will not close its doors until there is certainty about a new facility."

The museum service, he says, will stay in its current form throughout 2010/11, but the council does not have the money to modernise the buildings and displays.

Proceeds from selling the Burlington Street building could be used to provide the 'exciting' new service.

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