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Calls for plan as concerns grow

By Staff Reporter

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THE future of a five-star tourist attraction hangs in the balance ahead of more Moray Council budget cuts.

The Falconer Museum, the only local authority-run collections in the region, could close for good next year following February’s budget statement: “Close museum service or transfer to trust. If an external trust cannot take on this service, it will cease in April 2020.”

Moray councillor George Alexander has admitted the future looks bleak unless someone steps forward with a plan for alternative ownership.

He said: “It is believed that Moray Council, long term, will be closing, mothballing or Community Asset Transferring (CAT) the building. Friends of the Falconer Michael Rhind and Christine Clerk and development project officer Anne Owen of the museum agree that it is likely that one of these options will be taken.”

Mr Rhind hopes to remain involved in the running of the treasured building.

He said: “I myself would quite like to be part of a new trust but as of yet no-one has come forward to even suggest they want to take on the museum.”

Friends secretary Ms Clerk believes Moray Council are working towards creating a trust to run it.

She said: “We do not know the form or structure, or how it will be funded. It is thought that most of the staff will be made redundant.”

She added: “We are seeking a meeting with the four Forres councillors and the convenor of Moray Council to discuss the future of the museum collections.

“We are concerned to find positive ways forward for the Falconer Museum, the Moray Museum Service and the irreplaceable historic collections that the local authority holds in trust for current and future generations.”

Finally, a current employee claimed a trust as custodians or owners would be the only option other than the council retaining ownership but closing the museum’s doors for good.

She said: “We are hoping a trust will be found to take us on after April 2020, when council funding ceases. However, the Friends of the Falconer Museum will not as we don’t have the manpower or the people to undertake such a feat.

“It’s frustrating as no-one knows how to drum up support for the museum as we are not under immediate threat.”

Forres community councillor Lesley Edwards has been monitoring the situation and reporting back to the watchdog’s monthly meetings.

She added: “The Friends of the Falconer and Moray Council are at stalemate as neither has the money to take the other to court.”

The Snapshot History display encourages visitors to take part.
The Snapshot History display encourages visitors to take part.

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