Walsall Museum to stay as people power wins
Walsall Museum is to remain open after council chiefs dropped controversial plans to close it in a victory for people power.
Cash-strapped Walsall Council had been looking to shut the museum in a bid to save £70,000 this year.
Hundreds of people signed an online petition in an attempt to get the authority to ditch its plan as part of £19 million savings.
And during a meeting last night the council's decision-making Cabinet announced the proposal would be removed from the 2014/15 budget. The £70,000 will be covered from reserves.
But the long-term future of the venue is still in doubt.
Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said today: "Our plan has always been to open a new heritage centre for Walsall on one site which would bring together Walsall Museum, Leather Museum and Walsall Local History Centre.
"We've listened carefully to what people have to say and I'm pleased to say we are looking to retain the Museum until the collection can be moved into a new heritage centre."
The move comes after the authority revealed last week it was also looking to scrap a huge rise in annual sports club fees, which had left teams fearful of their future.
More than 225 people signed the online petition to support Walsall Museum in Lichfield Street.
Dedicated to the history of Walsall, the museum is home to a collection of artefacts reflecting the town's heritage, its many industries and the lives of the people who lived there.
Its collections such as the Hodson Choice, with a selection of 20th century clothing, face being mothballed.
When it emerged the museum had been earmarked to close it was revealed the authority could be forced to pay back lottery funding.
It received £50,000 towards the refurbishment of the Changing Face of Walsall gallery five years ago.
But leisure chiefs warned if there were no plans to re-display collections elsewhere using the equipment purchased then some repayment could be demanded.
However, at the time councillors said they would look to display items elsewhere.
The final decision on the budget is due to be made in February.
Walsall Council has also agreed to axe proposals which would have seen football, cricket and bowls team face huge increases this year.
It had planned to stop subsidising maintenance of facilities, with many clubs saying they would struggle to survive.
Under budget proposals, annual fees for bowls clubs were earmarked to rise from £810 to £6,605, costs for junior football teams from £382 to £1,618 and cricket teams on a Saturday have been facing a rise of £1,059 to £2,893 including £500 in maintenance.
The authority has said it will liaise with clubs to ensure sports pitches remain well used by the public, but also affordable.
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