CULTURE Minister Ed Vaizey has given a further massive boost to hopes of saving the National Railway Museum from possible closure.
The Minister said the NRM’s parent organisation, the Science Museum Group, had previously asserted that if Government funding cuts reached a certain level, it would have to look at closing one of its museums.
“They are not going to receive those level of cuts so there is no reason why any of these museums should close,” he said.
But the museum group responded to such comments cautiously, saying it was ‘encouraged’ by indications from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about the level of funding settlement for 2015/16.
However, it added: “We await confirmation of the actual details of the funding package and clearly, until these are received, we cannot be certain about the level of structural deficit we face and which options will have to be considered.”
It said the group had received overwhelming support from MPs, local councils and the general public in Bradford, Manchester and York, and would continue to do all it could to ensure the museums remained open and world-class.
The development came after MPs emerged from a showdown meeting with culture minister Ed Vaizey last night convinced that threatened funding cuts would be less severe than first feared.
The DCMS is believed to have a struck a deal with the Treasury to escape the worst of the cuts and it is now expected that museums and art galleries will lose only five per cent of their budgets – half that faced by other Government departments in the spending settlement, on June 26.
York council leader James Alexander said this afternoon: “While we’re encouraged by Ed Vaizey’s assurances, until the Chancellor delivers confirmation of a revenue and capital statement which assures the Northern museums’ continued existence, we will persist in pressing for the case in support of these three nationally-important institutions alongside our support for campaigns being run by York Press and the local community.”
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said: “After only very recently writing to the Culture Minister over the future of the NRM, I am delighted to hear that he has expressed his commitment to keeping this iconic piece of York’s DNA open for future generations to enjoy.
“I am sure the announcement will come as a relief, not just to the people of York, but also to people from across the Country and indeed the World, who travel to our great City in their flocks, to be inspired by our fantastic National Rail Museum.”
• The Press will continue with its Save the NRM campaign, which has now collected more than 8,000 signatures, with the petition due to be handed over to the Government by York Central MP Hugh Bayley early next seek. Forms and coupons must be handed to The Press by no later than Friday morning.