STABBED IN THE BACK

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VISITORS to Red House could have to stump up £3.50 each from April 1.

The admission charge is being proposed by Kirklees, just a fortnight after the council ditched plans to axe the Gomersal museum.

Now campaigners who fought to save it, say the steep charge will deter people from coming, giving the council another excuse to look at closure.

Ward councillors Margaret Bates and David Hall say they are horrified by the proposals.

“A charge of £3.50 for adults, and £1.50 for children, is hardly going to encourage more people to visit. There has to be parity across museums, you can get in the museums in Batley, Dewsbury and Huddersfield free, why is Red House the only one which has to generate an income?” said Coun Bates.

Coun Hall said: “The budget shortfall is across all museums, not just Red House – we feel Red House is being singled out.”

The proposals have also been slammed by Lib-Dem leader Coun Kath Pinnock.

“I’m appalled – it is entirely the wrong approach to save Red House. It will depress visitor numbers, leaving another question mark over its future,” she said.

“There was a huge volume of support to keep Red House open, people feel passionate about Spen’s heritage. Now they feel stabbed in the back. Yes, we need to look at ways of generating some income, but this is not the answer.”

Spen MP Mike Wood branded the proposals “unacceptable”.

“Having saved Red House, we have an opportunity to make it sustainable long term, but the imposition of ridiculous charges is the very reverse of that,” he said.

“I ask the council yet again to give this proper thought and work with the right people on a proper plan rather than this knee-jerk introduction of charges.

“Having failed to close it as they wanted to do, they will be closing it by stealth, which is disreputable.”

Spen Valley Civic Society vice-chairman Gordon North, who led the campaign, also urged a re-think.

“The last cabinet meeting decided a business plan would be drawn up and put in place in September. Anything prior to that is premature,” he said.

“The recent publicity has seen visitor numbers soar and we need a vibrant policy and website to capitalise on that.”

The proposals will be discussed at a Kirklees cabinet meeting on Tuesday at Huddersfield Town Hall at 4pm.