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PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW Bradford Council to either CLOSE or SELL Ilkley's Manor House Museum


1st March 2015

Ilkley Civic Society has written to Councillor David Green, the leader of Bradford Council objecting in the strongest terms about the proposal not only to close but to sell Ilkley’s Manor House a reader of this blog, we need your help to put a stop to this scandalous action by writing directly to Councillor Green.

Late last year the Manor House became an Asset of Community Value. It is a Grade 1 listed building built on the site of the Roman fort, in the main conservation area of historic Ilkley. The museum is due to close to the public on April 12th 2015.

This building was left by a benefactor, Mr Percy Dalton, to the people of Ilkley over 50 years ago specifically for use as a museum and art gallery. When it was subsequently transferred from Ilkley UDC on its demise to Bradford Council, as a result of the local government changes in 1974, it was never envisaged that this would lead ultimately to the loss of the building and thus of the museum and art gallery facility to Ilkley. The society considers that the museum is not morally Bradford Council’s to sell it belongs to Ilkley already.

The decision to sell was announced in advance of last week’s Council budget meeting and confusingly, at a point when the future of the museum and art gallery is still under discussion with Bradford Council officers. There was a proposal to transfer the museum to community management. Volunteers were appointed and trained. However, a report by consultants commissioned by the council on the future of the Manor House is still to be made public. The consultants’ findings will influence the value of the Manor House, yet the Ilkley Community now has to express an interest in buying the Manor House by 8th April 2015.

It has been made clear to Bradford officers that the singling-out of Ilkley’s Museum for closure is regarded as vindictive and prejudiced. It trespasses on the goodwill of all those people who have supported the museum for the last five decades. Last year Bradford Council made a large donation to the National Media Museum because it is important to Bradford. It should be recognised that the Manor House is equally important to Ilkley. Many local people view the decision to close the Manor House as a political one that has nothing to do with the council’s need to make economies.

There is no doubt that a town of the historical status of Ilkley needs a museum. Ilkley has fascinating pre-history of rock carvings, a Roman presence in the fort and vicus, a fascinating 19th Century spa town history, and complex 20th century developments.

It is disturbing that the removal of artifacts from the Manor House to storage in Bradford has already started. Many of these items were donated specifically to the Manor House by the people of Ilkley and support the history of the town and its people through the ages. The artifacts have no relevance or context to other museums and people are upset at their disappearance.

The Civic Society has therefore requested that District Councillors reconsider their closure and sales plan and that Bradford Council halts their sales process until all the facts are on the table.

Contact Helen Kidman 01943 609154

Chair, Ilkley Civic Society.