Jobs at risk in Red House hours cull

spn Red House Museum, Gomersal. (030420).
spn Red House Museum, Gomersal. (030420).
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RED House Museum could close for five days a week in the winter under council plans to save costs.

Kirklees museums and galleries is currently consulting on plans to close some sites, including the Gomersal museum, for several days a week during the winter and two days a week all year round.

The move, which will also see sites closing an hour early in the winter, will cost the jobs of some museum staff.

Kirklees Council has told staff the plans, which are expected to come into force as early as February, are in line with depleted visitor numbers during the colder months, and similar to the opening hours of National Trust sites and other museums nationwide.

Oakwell Hall in Birstall would be affected in the same way as Red House, though not the country park. The consultation comes under the council’s budget-setting agenda for 2012.

In a document to employees, the council says closing Red House and Oakwell two days a week all year would allow the sites to offer more opportunities for ‘hire and income generation’.

Both sites would close on the week days during winter to ‘reflect the low overall visitor levels in winter... giving the sites a rest during the off season’.

Local government union Unison has been contacted by its concerned members. Unison’s lead steward in wellbeing and integration Heather Ellis said: “We are at the very first stage of the restructuring and we are very concerned for our members.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “The need for changes to opening hours was accepted last year by councillors, for implementation in 2012. To meet that timetable, the discussions with staff and trade unions need to begin now.

“There is a continuing need for us to achieve efficiencies from across the whole range of services and councillors have some difficult decisions to make.”

The spokesman said in last year’s budget discussions there was all-party agreement in looking at reducing museum hours.

Anyone who wants a say on the council’s budget plan can visit www.kirklees.gov.uk and search You Choose, or email consultation@kirklees.gov.uk until December 28.