People power saves Red House Museum

Red House Museum
Red House Museum

PEOPLE power has saved Red House Museum.

Following massive public outcry – and the Spenborough Guardian’s Hands Off Red House campaign – Kirklees Council has now abandoned plans to close it to save money.

The ruling Labour group announced on Tuesday it was against the closure, proposed by officers in the council’s 2012 budget.

The Lib Dems and Conservatives also refused to support the closure of what has been described as the jewel in the Spen Valley’s crown.

Vice-chairman of Spen Valley Civic Society Gordon North delivered an impassioned plea to the meeting, along with a slide-show presentation about the museum to outline its value to the area.

Red House attracts more than 26,000 visitors a year and has close links to the Brontë family. It was the home of Charlotte Brontë’s close friend Mary Taylor and features in the author’s novel Shirley.

After the meeting Mr North said: “I am over the moon. I am convinced that Red House is an under-used asset and we can now take it forward and keep it open for future years.

“We will be forming a working group to look at museums and ways of raising revenue from them so they can all stay open, including Red House, and not just for this year but for future years.”

Imelda Marsden, from the Brontë Society, said: “It’s brilliant news, but we cannot be complacent.

“We will have to keep our eyes and ears open. Special thanks must go to the Spenborough Guardian, ward councillors, Spen MP Mike Wood, Gordon North and everybody else involved.”

Council leader Coun Mehboob Khan said: “Red House Museum is an important part of our history and we want to look at more innovative ways of generating the income needed to keep it running, or look at how we might make the saving elsewhere.”

Opposition groups said they were delighted the plans to scrap the museum had been ditched.

Deputy Tory leader and ward councillor Coun David Hall said: “We have done a lot of lobbying behind the scenes to ensure that the proposal to close Red House did not go ahead.”

Lib-Dem leader Kath Pinnock said: “Great news for the Spen Valley as Labour councillors agree that the famous Red House should be saved.”