Redundancies at Northampton museum amid ‘enormous pressure’ on West unitary
Less than three years after opening, West Northamptonshire Council is cutting jobs at its museum and gallery
By Sarah Ward
Staff at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery have been told they are facing redundancy as part of a restructure of the service by West Northamptonshire Council.
13 full time roles will go and six new roles created as part of a move that will see the end of specialist curators at the museum on Guildhall Road.
The staff were given notice of redundancy on January 27 and there is currently a 30 day consultation under way. Staff have been told there are pressures on the museum staffing budget. Specialist curators for leather, local history and the county specialism of shoes will be replaced with two general curators.
The museum opened in 2021 and was paid for from the sale of the Egyptian statue Sekhemka. The controversial sale caused the former museum to lose Arts Council accreditation, but its replacement regained accreditation at the end of 2022.
Lynsey Tod from Unison said she feared this restructure could be the start of others across the council.
“Unison is very concerned at the proposal to reduce the number of staff at the museum and libraries service.
“Only a few days ago West Northamptonshire Council was hailing the implementation of a new county wide tourism strategy, which has ambitions for growth, while at the same time reducing the staff that will be tasked with helping to deliver that strategy.
“Our museums and libraries play a crucial part in protecting and promoting both our community’s identity and its heritage but the continued hollowing out of local government means that these vital services are being asked to do more for less.
“Providing a vision of growth while overseeing a reduction in staff feels like a council wanting to promote itself but without the proper tools to do the job.”
The authority is currently £3.5m over budget this financial year.
Cllr Adam Brown, cabinet member for housing, culture and leisure, said:
“The council has been clear that it faces enormous pressure on its services with demand and inflation increasing and the grants and money we raise not meeting these needs in full.
“So in line with good practice across the sector we have had to look at all services to ensure that we have realised the full benefit of them being brought together, that our income is being maximised and that we are efficient.
“The public expects us to do this and it’s important when residents are faced with such cost of living challenges. We have reviewed all services in this way and in some cases will now be seeking to restructure where this makes sense.
“We will always seek to minimise or remove any job losses and we will consult with staff and unions where this is the case. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this time until staff have been engaged.”