Agenda item

Update on Archives, Collections and Learning Centre.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities which provided an update and sought the views of the Committee on the work undertaken to develop an Archives, Collections and Learning (ACL) Centre. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 12’ is filed with these minutes.


In presenting the report, the Director provided the following additional information:


i.          Current buildings occupied were the collections and resources centre at Barrow which was leased by the County Council at around £50,00 per annum. Also the Sherrier Centre at Lutterworth, and the Records Office in Wigston which were owned by the County Council as was an industrial unit in Coalville and a unit at Riverside Court in Measham, all of which could be commercially leased or sold to bring in income if no longer required.


ii.          Some of the leased sites when vacated would have some dilapidation costs, the figures for which were currently being considered, and would be at cost to the Council at some stage. The Director reported that the condition surveys on those buildings had estimated maintenance costs of around £3million over the next three to five years, with £1.5million of those sitting within the priority one and priority two areas, which meant such costs would potentially be avoided if the new ACL centre was progressed.


iii.          It was not currently possible to quantify the running costs of the new ACL centre, but the building was being designed to be efficient and sustainable.


iv.          In terms of next steps, additional investment was required to develop the project through the RIBA stages.  This would be put forward for consideration as part of the capital programme. This would represent a major capital commitment at a time of significant financial challenge for the Authority, but offered an ongoing long-term solution to what had been a significant challenge in terms of the Council’s commitment to care for and make available the cultural and historical heritage and records of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.


Arising from discussion, the following points arose:


(i)  In response to a Member question it was explained that the National Archives advice was to plan for capacity for a period up to 25 years.  This had therefore been used as the basis for the proposals.  Any additional space built over and above this would significantly increase cost. 

(ii)     It was difficult to estimate what storage capacity would be required during the25 years, but this had been done based on previous years’ intake. Members noted that capacity had only been factored in for Record Office collections, not museum’s collections, as there was no statutory requirement for the Council to provide for this.


(iii)   Members noted that it was a legal requirement for the Council to house records and to ensure these were appropriately stored and cared for.  A Member suggested that the cost of inaction and losing accreditation would be significant financially and reputationally and in light of such risks, and to prevent further increases in costs, delivery of the new ACL centre should be brought forward if possible.

(iv) Members suggested that the City and Rutland Councils should be approached for an early response as to whether they would be involved and contribute towards the proposed new centre.


(v)   In response to a Members’ question, the Director reported that the scheme would have such a large capital cost, the Council had tried to exhaust all possibilities and alternatives.  However, the development of the new centre appeared to be the only option if the Council wanted to continue to deliver all of the elements within the Hub and maintain its accreditation.


(vi) Members noted that a lot of the collections had been gifted to the Council, and although it was sometimes prudent to look at alternative locations for some of its collections, it had a duty to the people of Leicestershire to maintain some of their heritage and make it available to them.




a)    That the update report on Archives, Collections and Learning Centre be noted and welcomed;


b)    That the Cabinet be advised that the Committee unanimously supported the proposals for the new Centre, but suggested that the project commence at the earliest possible stage to enable savings on leased and owned buildings to be made.


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