Joint statement from Northern councils over museum threat

The following statement was issued on Saturday by the leaders of Manchester, Bradford and York Councils in response to news this week that the Science Museum Group could be about to close one of three museums in the North including Manchester's Museum of Science & Industry to save London's Science Museum.

"Bradford, Manchester and York councils are working together to make sure we can maintain the Science Museums Group's current scale of operations in its national presence outside of London.

"The Science Museum Group, which has already absorbed 25% cuts since 2010, has said that if an additional 10% cut is made by the Government through their Spending Review, it would have very little choice other than to close one of the Northern national science museums in our cities, since their year-on-year deficit would rise from £2m to £6m. This is something we and the North as a whole could not accept.

"We not only host priceless national collections but are in partnership to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to drive the national and local economies and showcase best of British research

"Government science policy needs to be more joined up and there needs to be an on-going commitment to funding across the scientific community.

"The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has a £13m 'science and society' programme and spends its money on a plethora of initiatives, but not on the Science Museum Group. This does not make sense because the science museums are trusted by the public and teachers and have the best experience of presenting science with the greatest impact and reach across the country.

"The three northern national science museums are also vital to the current local economies of our great cities, in total they contribute over £500m a year and provide directly over 250 full time equivalent jobs in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

"We are keen to encourage increased collaboration across all the national science museums and with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

"The science museums are important contributors to our national and local education, tourism and cultural offer, providing a very real indication of the Government's commitment to science and technology and our national economic growth, particularly in the North of England.

"It would be unthinkable even to consider closing national museums, like the Victoria & Albert or the National History Museum, in London. Why then does it appear to be acceptable to discuss potential closures of national museums in Northern cities?

"The economic and cultural impact of closing a national science museum in Bradford, York or Manchester would be much more devastating in any one of these cities, than closing a London museum would be on the capital's or indeed the nation's economy."

The statement was issued jointly by Cllr James Alexander, Leader of York City Council, Cllr David Green, leader of Bradford City Council and Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council.

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