Labour councillors criticise Tory proposals to end the Usher as an art gallery
Labour councillors on Lincolnshire County Council strongly oppose the Tory County Council plans to end the use of the Usher Gallery as an art gallery and to use it as a base for the Registration, Celebratory and Coroners Services. Account must be taken of the wishes of over 800 people who opposed the closure in the recent public consultation.
What Labour councillors are saying is that a decision should be delayed for up to a year to allow alternative proposals to come forward from the Usher Gallery Trust and the Historic Lincoln Trust. We think it is quite wrong for the County Council to take a hasty decision at the Executive meeting on 4 September to bring about such a major change of use given the importance of the gallery as the most important arts venue in the City and County for the best part of a century and the results of the recent public consultation
After all it can hardly be a question of needing to save money that urgently, given that the County Council has recently declared holding balances of £189 million.
We fundamentally disagree with Cllr Nick Worth’s statement that there’s a passionate minority who want to keep the Usher Gallery as it is. No, everybody involved in saving the Usher want to do much more than that and seek to make the Usher a dynamic Centre for the arts in Lincoln and Lincolnshire which contrasts with two decades of serious under investment by the Tory led County Council. That’s why time is needed to work on new ideas and get long term funding.
The current Conservative approach is demonstrated by two points.
Firstly, the results of public consultation does not matter much
Secondly, Nick Worth acknowledges that the recommendation is based on the priority of saving £750,000 with no mention that the County Council holds £189 million in balances. So what does that tell the people of Lincolnshire? Perhaps that the old saying is true about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Labour’s option makes sense all round.