Canterbury's Roman Museum could fall victim to the credit crunch

Canterbury City Council is the latest local authority set to close museums as part of cost-cutting measures. It is wielding the budget axe and has decided that saving the city’s Christmas lights is more important than keeping the Roman Museum open to the public.

Under the budget proposals, the Roman Museum and the nearby the Westgate Towers Museum would close, while Herne Bay Museum would remain open only for ‘educational’ groups but not for the general public.

Canterbury is not alone in sacrificing museums – often seen as soft targets – as part of cost-cutting drives. Leicester, Worthing and Kingston are three others to have looked to cut museum opening hours in an effort to save money. In the case of Kingston and Worthing, residents have resisted the changes.

A National Cost-Cutting Trend

In Kingston, the council reversed plans to slash the museum’s opening hours after a public outcry. In Worthing, plans to cut the Museum and Art Gallery’s opening hours are up in the air after more than half of those responding to a public consultation said they would accept a 14.9% rise in council tax if it meant the preservation of cultural and education programmes, which include the museum.

Canterbury’s budget plans fly in the face its own consultation, which saw more than 44% of respondents describe the museum changes as “most unacceptable”. With the Tory-led council seemingly determined to go ahead, public opposition to the plans is mounting. An online petition has been accumulating signatures from the general public, as well as from academics and teachers, while a Facebook group carrying news and updates on the campaign now has more than 1,000 members. Information on who to write to at council is provided on the Save Canterbury’s Museums website.

'Canterbury Should be Exploiting Its Heritage, Not Shutting It'

Dr Paul Bennet of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust is among those fighting the closures. “We should be exploiting Canterbury’s heritage assets more fully at this difficult [economic] time, not considering closure of the best of them for potential re-use as a retail outlet,” he says. “Canterbury is not just a provincial town – its name is known all over the world for its heritage and it is therefore irrational, even in difficult times, to chip away at what is the main basis upon which visitors come to the city in the numbers they do."

Canterbury is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, and the Roman Museum and Westgate Towers both sit within the popular tourist precinct that includes the world-famous Cathedral, St Martin’s Church and St Augustine’s Abbey. Bennet argues that cultural and historical sites that could further exploit Canterbury's tourist potential should be encouraged, not shut down altogether. “It is the very combination of museums in different locations that with greater engagement ought to provide added value to the Canterbury experience,” he says.

The Roman Museum – underground at the level of the old Roman town – offers a fascinating window on life in a Roman town house, complete with an in situ Roman mosaic that was discovered following wartime bombing. The interactive nature of the museum means visitors can see reconstructions that illustrate what the house was like in Roman times, and there are also touch screen computer games and a ‘touch the past’ area where visitors can handle real Roman artefacts.

A final decision will be made at a full meeting of council on February 18.

The Ancient World in London

Two major publishers go bust as recession bites into historical book world

Local Info: Tips For Taking Part in Illuminating Hadrian's Wall

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

    £30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

    Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

    £40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

    £30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

    Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

    £35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game