National organisation says £25,000 cut to Northamptonshire heritage services could have ‘significant negative impact’

Heritage site: reconstructed Northampton Castle gateway
Heritage site: reconstructed Northampton Castle gateway
  • Northamptonshire County Council have proposed £68 million in savings for 2015/2016
  • Savings to the heritage and archive service be made through ‘new staffing structure’
  • Council say it will not affect ‘frontline’ services

Plans to slash Northamptonshire County Council’s archive and heritage service budget by £25,000 could have a ‘negative impact’ in preserving the county’s history, a national organisation says.

The cut comes as part of the £68 million of savings the council has proposed for the 2015/16 financial year.

The majority of these savings are to be found through a reduction in staff numbers

Council for British Archaeology

The authority’s archives, heritage and history department has already had its budget cut several times in recent years and the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) say this has been achieved through repeated staff redundancies.

A spokesperson for the CBA said a ‘worrying precedent’ has been set by the repeated cuts, which it believes will have long term implications for the county.

The spokesperson said: “The proposed cuts are likely to have a significant negative impact on the conservation and protection of the historic environment of the region.

“This increases the risk of unnecessary and potentially illegal damage to irreplaceable archaeological sites.

“It will also affect the ability of the service to support local communities’ engagement with their historic environment.”

The service takes on a number of roles, including running the County Archives and Records Office, curating and maintaining the Historic Environment Record, looking after and maintaining public access to 24 ‘County Heritage Sites’ and maintaining public access to these sites, heritage education and outreach and hosting the Northamptonshire Portable Antiquities Scheme in partnership with The British Museum and other local authorities.

A spokesman for the county council said: “Due to a reduction in central government funding and an ever-increasing demand for services, the county council had to make £68million of savings in the 2015/16 budget.

“This included a small reduction of £25,000 for archives and heritage services, which was achieved by introducing a new staffing structure, enabling us to protect the frontline service.”