Agenda item

Staffordshire History Centre Project Update

Joint Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Customer Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) 


The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Customer Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) updating them on progress with regard to the Staffordshire History Centre Project (Schedule x to the signed minutes).


The Archive and Heritage Service submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on 11 February 2016 for the development of a Stafford History Centre comprising accommodation for records (some of which were 1,000 years old), a new community exhibition space, modern search rooms and strong rooms to provide storage for an additional 25 years of future collections.


Following consideration by the HLF, a grant of £333,400 was awarded for the development phase of the project to enable (i) designs for the new centre to be prepared; (ii) an Activity Plan to be developed in consultation with stakeholders; (iii) Management, Maintenance and Business Plans to be drawn-up together with a Fund Raising Strategy and Learning Policy; (iv) the calculation of detailed costings for the delivery stage and (v) further fundraising to secure the remaining £150,000 match funding required.


It was then planned to submit a bid for a further grant of £3.9m to enable the Stage 2 - Delivery Phase of the project to be completed.


Members noted that the process to appoint consultants to assist in developing the project and Design Team had now been completed. In addition, a Community History Development Officer and Project Support Officer had been appointed on fixed term contracts and would work with staff and consultants in the development of the Stage 2 application.


The consultants would be responsible for producing (i) the Activity Plan; (ii) the Learning Plan and; (iii) interpretation and design. In addition they would provide fundraising support and submit bids to secure £150,000 match funding plus an additional £50,000 match funding by Friends of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service and Friends of William Salt Library through a Crowdfunding Campaign..    


The next key milestone in the project was a mid-stage review by the HLF. This was to ensure that sufficient good quality progress had been made towards achieving the approved purposes of the Development Grant. It was anticipated that this review would take place in September/October 2017 and pending success, the Stage 2 Application was intended to be submitted in March 2018 with the decision expected by June 2017.


Work was underway to plan and prepare for the relocation of the Lichfield Record Office collections to the Staffordshire Record Office and archive out-store in Stafford. In addition, the Heritage Service were preparing to move from the County Museum at Shugborough to new premises in Stafford. It was anticipated that the Office at Lichfield would be decommissioned by April 2018 and a new access point established at the redeveloped St. Mary’s Heritage Centre.


A review of the staffing structure for the Archives and Heritage Service had been completed. Currently there were 25.4 full time equivalent posts (excluding those funded externally). It was proposed to create a new operating model which (i) re-balances staff time and resources to reduce the time spent on site and serve management; (ii) developed flexible role across the service; (iii) aligned roles towards the delivery of the strategic vision for the service with greater focus on online services, outreach and volunteers; (iv) facilitated the operation of one public access site and supported the county-wide activity programme; (v) ensured the service met its accreditation standards and managed collection efficiently; (vi) included fundraising in key roles in order to offer sustainability after Heritage Lottery Finding for the History Centre ceased; (vii) delivered £260,000 savings for the service.


It was intended that the new structure would be in place by 1 April 2018 to enable the delivery of £130,000 savings for 2018/19 and a further £130,000 in 2019/20.


During the discussion which ensued the Chairman sought clarification of the arrangements for consultation with staff on the new operating model and the opportunities for reducing the staffing establishment (if required) through voluntary redundancies and retirements.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the progress made in the Staffordshire History Centre Project be noted.


(c) That the new operating model for the Staffordshire History Centre as set out in the report, be approved.







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