U-turn for Red House hours

KIRKLEES Council has done a u-turn over plans to close Red House Museum and Oakwell Hall during the weekdays in winter.

Instead both museums will open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays all year round – a loss of just two days a week.

Earlier this year council chiefs announced plans to close the museums five days a week in winter and two in the summer. Shortly afterwards they provoked outrage by saying Red House could close altogether, but following a campaign supported by the Spenborough Guardian it was given a reprieve.

Spen MP Mike Wood, who was among the objectors, said: “Red House and Oakwell are among Kirklees’s jewels in the crown; they need to be safeguarded and not subjected to death by a thousand cuts. News that officers have changed tack considerably is most welcome. It shows the arguments put forward about their significance, importance and value have been listened to.

“We are so used to seeing a deterioration in proposals and intentions that it is a refreshing change to see a brighter future for our local museums than was initially suggested and officers should be thanked for this.

“There does however need to be a much clearer picture about the staffing situation and I hope more will be done to engage with staff and keep them up to date and involved as things move forward.”

Ward councillor Lisa Holmes, who also fought to keep Red House open, said: “It is a victory because we were really worried Red House would close altogether, but we are still disappointed it won’t be open seven days a week.

“I’m glad the council has listened, but we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to look at ways of getting revenue in, such as launching a Friends of Red House, using it for weddings, adult learning, events for children and possibly even a cafe.”

The council says reducing staff levels and closing sites between Christmas and New Year, means it can lessen the reduction in opening hours.