Council's £140,000 bill to take over museum

PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 January 2011

North Somerset Museum

North Somerset Museum

Copyright Archant Ltd

WESTON Town Council will have to find nearly £140,000 in its budget over the coming year to fund its takeover of North Somerset Museum.

The figures were revealed at the authority’s Policy and Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday where members discussed the draft budget for 2011/12.

As it stands the authority’s portion of the council tax bill looks set to rise by 5.66 per cent – an increase of £2.14 per Band D property this year.

The rise is partly due to the takeover of the museum and the new Blakehay theatre bar, which the council also needs to find £40,473 to fund.

However several councillors voiced their anger at this figure being included on the budget as they said the council is looking to put the bar out to tender and would not need this money to fund the facility.

Councillor Mark Canniford said when the final decision is made on the budget at full town council he would ask councillors to reconsider including this figure.

And Councillor Lisa Pilgrim said: “I don’t think it should be on this budget.

“This is a figure that does not need to be included in the precept.”

Committee members also considered the results of a surveyor’s report which had been commissioned by the council to look at how much it would need to spend in terms of refurbishments and other works at the museum.

The report advised that the authority would need to find ‘considerable’ capital investment totalling £598,250 over the next 10 years.

This means the council is looking to spend a capital cost of £94,080 on works to the museum in the coming year on top of the £140,000 that it needs to run the Burlington Street facility.

However as part of takeover negotiations with North Somerset Council, the unitary authority agreed to hand over a lump sum of £100,000 towards building costs and pay for repairs to the boiler and asbestos-related work.

Committee members agreed that from next year onwards, the council could investigate funding museum building works through its capital expenditure and reserves, and would also look at applying for grants.

They discounted borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board at this stage as the council already has public loans totalling £521,000.

Weston Town Council will meet on January 17 where they will set their budget and precept for the forthcoming year.

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