Borough council accused of ‘plundering’ Northampton’s heritage

Abington Park Museum.
Abington Park Museum.

Museums in Northampton should be put into a trust according to the borough council’s Liberal Democrats group, which says the move would protect the town’s heritage from further ‘pillaging’.

The call has been made after Northampton’s two museums were stripped of their Arts Council England accreditation last week following the £18m sale of the Sekhemka statue.

The governing body said it had a ‘substantive disagreement’ with the way the borough council handled the sale of the Egyptian artefact, excluding the authority from regaining its accredited status until at least August 2019.

Councillor Brendan Glynane, (Lib Dem, Delapre & Briar Hill) has now called on both Northampton Museum and Abington Park Museum to be taken out of council ownership.

He said: “This awful plundering of the town’s heritage for a quick pay day has permanently damaged the reputation of Northampton on the national stage – and the subsequent loss of accreditation means a loss of funding.

“The museums will be worse off financially as well as culturally.

“We are calling for the Museum’s to be placed in trust, to stop politicians selling off any more of the family silver,” he added.

The council’s Labour group has also criticised the Conservative controlled authority’s actions in selling Sekhemka.

Group leader Councillor Les Marriott (Lab, Semilong) said the Conservatives “should have been more up front” about its plans to sell the item, which will help fund a £14m renovation of the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery on Guildhall Road.

He said: “Losing the accreditation status is a further blow for Northampton’s museums as it comes on the top of the wrong sort of publicity received worldwide in the run up to the sale.

“This is certainly not the image we want for Northampton. We will have a museum in the self-proclaimed culture quarter without the nationally recognised accreditation.

“The ruling Conservative administration took a gamble which hasn’t paid off.”