The Head of Museums introduced two reports which outlined the proposal to create a new Trust for Arts, Museums and Heritage in the Hampshire-Solent area, and provided a view of how Arts and Museums services in Eastleigh might be delivered under the new proposals.
The new Trust would be Hampshire’s leading cultural organisation and would take the form of a charitable company limited by guarantee and independently governed by a group of trustees from the local community and business world. The founding partners would be Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and Winchester City Council. The Trust’s mission would be to provide outstanding arts and heritage experiences, working closely with local communities, businesses, schools and organisations.
A five-year strategy would be developed, with a number of objectives, including raising the national and international profile of Hampshire’s arts and heritage, increasing access to regional, national and international collections and embedding learning and community engagement across its services.
The business case was currently in the final stages of development and proposals were being finalised with regard to the provision of long-term lease or loan of the properties and collections currently owned by the three partner authorities; grant funding agreements, central support services and transfer of staff.
It was anticipated that the benefit of a charitable trust model would be to improve capacity to harness new sources of money for re-investment in services. These included activities that would increase audiences, develop new potential income and grant-aid strands, maximise tax relief opportunities and improve the efficient use of resources.
Under the proposal, the delivery and development of services at Bursledon Windmill would be transferred to the new Trust. No change to current service levels would take place, although frontline staff would transfer to the Trust under TUPE arrangements. Potential benefits would include promotion of services via a dedicated website and e-marketing strategy, access to the wider fundraising and income generating opportunities and capacity of the new Trust and wider community engagement at all levels of activity.
The Head of Museums reported that the three partner authorities would decide whether to proceed with the establishment of a new Trust in December 2012-January 2013. With regard to the County Council, the Culture, Communities and Rural Affairs Select Committee would discuss the proposal on 20 November 2012, and the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation would make a decision on 5 December, informed by comments from all partners. If a decision was made to proceed, it was intended that the new Trust would be established during 2013/14 and that services would be transferred from 2014/5 onwards.
In considering the proposal to set up a new Trust, members of the Committee expressed a number of concerns regarding the implications for Bursledon Windmill, including:
· In the first five years of the Trust, more rather than less funding would be required. If the three partners were not minded to provide this, the Trust could fail;
· Assurance was needed that the budget for the Windmill would have funding set aside for the next replacement of the windshaft;
· Trusts could not hold large reserves, and a detailed analysis of the financing of such a trust was required, with regard to issues including tax exemption and grant aid;
· If staff pensions were transferred to the Trust, this would involve a large amount of money in the future.
The Committee considered that the timescale for the submission of comments was very short and that both Bursledon, Hamble-le-Rice and Hound Local Area Committee (BHH LAC), and Bursledon Parish Council, as funding partners for the Windmill, would need to consider the proposal in much more detail before a view could be taken. The Head of Museums offered to attend meetings with members of both authorities. A BHH LAC Team meeting was to be held on 25 October, to which the Head of Museums would be invited. Bursledon Parish Council would also liaise with her with regard to a meeting. The Chair of this Committee would then respond to the letter that he had received from the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation inviting comments on the proposal. Bursledon Parish Council and the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust would also send their responses to the Executive Member.