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Kinneil Museum Consultation Underway

A TWO month public consultation has started over controversial proposals to close Kinneil Museum in Bo’ness.

In February, Falkirk Council revealed plans to close the historic building and transfer part of its collection to a refurbished Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness town centre. Officials suggested that Kinneil’s Roman display would be moved to Callendar House in Falkirk.

The move prompted criticism from locals and heritage groups. (Read our timeline below)

The Council has now launched an official consultation period, and is asking for comments. The talks end on June 30.

In a press statement just posted on the Council’s website, the council said it was proposing “various changes to the way Kinneil Museum is operated” – but didn’t elaborate on the proposals.

Councillor Robert Spears, convener of the council’s environment and heritage committee, said: “We recognise that there is great public feeling about the future of Kinneil Museum and we want to hear as many opinions as possible on its future. We also want to find out what people think of our plans for the Hippodrome and to give the local community a chance to be involved in its development.

”We intend to contact a large number of community based organisations to take on board their views as well as welcoming individual comments made by the public.

”These views will be considered and we will report back the findings to a meeting of the Environment and Heritage Committee later in the summer.”

”It’s important that local residents have their say over this issue and we are offering them a real opportunity to voice their opinions.”

Those wishing to make their thoughts known can do so in a variety of ways including:

  • writing directly to Falkirk Council’s Community Services at the Community Stadium, Westfield, Falkirk FK2 9DX; email director.commser@falkirk.gov.uk
  • online via a questionnaire at www.falkirkonline.net  (available from May 3)
  • via public meetings of interested groups where representatives from Falkirk Council can be available to outline their plans or;
  • by attending Bo’ness Area Forum on Thursday 18 May at 7pm in Kinneil Primary School.

The Council says it is consulting with numerous community groups and organisations – such as Bo’ness Community Council, Friends of Kinneil, local schools, the Bo’ness Film Society and the wider Bo’ness arts community.

To help local people www.bo-ness.org.uk is providing a timeline of information and documents . . . .


TIMELINE

May 2003 – Museum official steps down

Jack Sanderson, the Falkirk Council official responsible for the development of Kinneil Museum, retires from the Council. “Today, there's too much red tape,” he tells the Bo’ness Journal.

 Read the Journal story here

Late 2005  - Falkirk Council publishes its draft heritage strategy.

The draft strategy proposes a “review” of all the council’s museums in the district (including Kinneil Museum) – with one exception. The Council says it wants to “improve facilities and operations management to enhance our custodianship of Callendar House” in Falkirk.

 Read the draft heritage strategy here

February 14, 2006 – Report to council’s environment and heritage committee first reveals proposal to close Kinneil Museum.

 Read the council report, including the proposals, here.

February 14, 2006 – Falkirk Council puts out a press statement on the plans.

“It is hoped the refurbished Hippodrome building will become the new home of the exhibitions at both Bo’ness Town Hall and Kinneil Museum bringing them together, for the first time, under the one roof. A community consultation is planned to take place prior to work getting underway in May 2007.”

 Read the council press statement here

February 17, 2006 – Bo’ness Journal reports the Kinneil closure plans tied in with the re-opening of the Hippodrome Cinema.

The paper talks to Bo’ness Councillor John Constable. The paper claims: “Councillor Constable conceded that closure of Kinneil Museum was regrettable. He added: ‘It has a diminishing footfall but the many fine exhibits deserve greater exposure.’.”

 Read the Journal story here

February 22 or 23, 2006 – Falkirk Council issues a statement to the Journal.

Sue Selwyn, the Council’s head of culture and lifelong learning, says in the statement: “The Environment and Heritage Committee agreed to recommend the transfer of the museum function to the Hippodrome and also to consult with the community on future uses of the museum and its collections in the coming months.”

* Read her full statement to the paper here.

February 24, 2006 – Journal reports anger at the closure plans for Kinneil Museum – using the headline “Sneak thieves”.

The paper reflects on Ms Selwyn’s statement and suggests: “Local folk are right to be fearful for the museum's future.”

 Read the Journal story here

March 3, 2006 – Community council reveals plans to discuss the proposed closure of Kinneil Museum at its March meeting.

The Journal also reveals an online poll run by www.bo-ness.org.uk showed 90 per cent of respondents against removal of part of Kinneil’s displays to Falkirk.

 Read the Journal story here

March 8, 2006 – Falkirk Council’s policy and resources committee meets.

The policy committee backs the recommend-ations in the February 14th report on the Hippodrome/Kinneil Museum (see above to download) – but stresses there will be full consultation.

A bid to remove the threat of closure from Kinneil Museum is overturned.

* Read the official minute of the committee here, noting the decisions.

March 9, 2006 – Around 50 people attend the community council meeting on Kinneil Museum.

A show of hands reveals unanimous support for the museum to be retained. Councillor Constable claims there has been “misinformation” about the council’s plans, but pledges that the Bo’ness people – no-one else – will make the decision about the museum’s future.

March 11, 2006 – “Hands off our museum”. The Journal reports on the community meeting.

Kate Erskine, a former museum employee, is quoted as saying: "When I started work there in 1987 Kinneil Museum was a thriving and worthwhile place. Closure would be a barrier to learning about our history.''

 Read the Journal story here

March 11, 2006 – Councillor Constable sends a letter to the Bo’ness website confirming: “The Bo’ness public would decide whether the Kinneil Museum was closed or not.”

* Download Councillor Constable’s letter here.

March 17, 2006 – Petition plea

A schoolboy gathers 160 signatures urging Falkirk Council not to close the museum. His mother says: “More needs to be done to improve Kinneil Estate for visitors.”

 Read the Journal story here

March 30, 2006 – A senior councillor tries to re-assure worried residents.

Councillor Robert Spears told The Falkirk Herald: "There are a lot of plans being looked at and we're very open to people's ideas as well. Ultimately, the heritage sites and collections in the Falkirk area don't belong to the council, they belong to the people."

 Read The Falkirk Herald story  

April 9, 2006 – “Fury as Antonine Museum set to go to the Wall”.

Roman re-enactment group the Antonine Guard pledge their support for the campaign to save the Museum. Its secretary tells the Sunday Express: “Kinneil Museum should be upgraded and not shut.”

April 14, 2006 – “Fighting talk”

The Journal reports on the Antonine Guard’s fight to retain Kinneil Museum. It also reveals a new group, Friends of Kinneil, has been set up to promote and develop Kinneil Estate.

 Read the Journal story here

April 14, 2006 – “Fighting talk”

The Bo’ness Journal reports on the history of Kinneil Estate. It says the general view of Falkirk Council’s stewardship of Kinneil Estate is: “Under-funded, under-promoted and under-used.”

 Read the Journal story here

April 21, 2006 – “Don’t make our museum history”.

A petition is launched to get Falkirk Council to keep Kinneil Museum open. Lynn Munro of Friends of Kinneil tells the Journal: “To think that the council wants to close the door on a museum, which stands on land gifted by Robert the Bruce himself, is incomprehensible."

 Read the Journal story here

April 21, 2006 – Former boss speaks out.

Jack Sanderson, the former cultural services manager at Falkirk Council, writes to the Journal and Gazette. In his letter, he says: “The exciting story of Kinneil Estate can only be experienced on site and the museum is a vital starting point.”

The paper says it received a huge number of letters about the museum. (This letter is no longer online).

April 25, 2006 – Council to start consultation.

Falkirk Council issues a press release on its plans for Kinneil Museum . . . but fails to clarify its proposals.

 Read the council press release here

May 1, 2006 – Consultation gets underway

May 18, 2006 – Area Forum to discuss Kinneil.

The Bo’ness Area Forum will discuss the closure plans at a meeting on Thursday, May 18, in Kinneil School, starting at 7 p.m.

If you want to speak out on this topic, make sure you’re there . . . .

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