A turn up for the books a couple of days ago as it appears the folk over at Walsall Council’s Press Office still read the blog – you’ll remember the post from a couple of days ago when I passed on the news that opening of the Local History Centre in Essex Street was being cut back to allow for the move of the archive to central Walsall.
In that post, I expressed my concerns hat this change should not be used as cover to cut down the service provided by this outstanding and valuable facility, which is a sentiment I still feel most strongly.
I am concerned, as are many in the local history community, that this change should not be allowed to become permanent and that access must be eventually restored to the commonwealth of Walsall History of which Walsall Council are, after all, only custodians.
In saying this, I intend no reflection on the people staffing the place, just those wielding the axe. My regard for the staff is huge and I wish them all the very best for the future.
Soon after I posted this I had an email from Walsall Council’s Press Office stating the following, which I include in full:
Your blog piece of yesterday on Walsall History Centre has been brought to our attention. Although you haven’t asked us for a comment, you may find this helpful.
Walsall Council confirmed that:
‘In order to retain Archive Service Accreditation, it is a requirement of the National Archive that the Walsall Borough Archive is open to the public for a minimum of 21 hours per week. The National Archive recognises that preparations to move the Local History Centre and Archive successfully to the new location will take considerable time and expertise, and has approved the temporary reduction in opening hours to facilitate this.’
I thank the Council and Press Office for this welcome and reassuring clarification, but I would like to think there is more protecting this wonderful archive than mere statutory service commitment.
It should be noted, however, that the move will be beneficial to punters like me, as access will be better and hopefully enable longer opening hours than currently.
However, I reiterate that the local history community must remain vigilant. These are perilous times for public services and we need to be protective to services that may be viewed as an easy cut.
Thanks to the folks at the press office, and a hearty wave and ‘Hiya!’ for anyone still reading this shambling pile of toss over at the Council.
Any comment? Feel free – either here or email me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.