Agenda item

Staffordshire History Centre Project

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Resources – Assistant Chief Executive (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)


The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) updating them on progress with regard to the Staffordshire History Centre Project (Schedule 2 to the signed minutes ).


The Archive and Heritage Service had submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for funding towards the development of a Staffordshire History Centre comprising (i) accommodation for records; (ii) a new community exhibition space; (iii) 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 with a further £4m being earmarked for Phase 2, subject to a successful application to be made. Permission to commence work was confirmed by HLF in October 2016 and during 2017 several pieces of work were commissioned which were required for Phase 2.


The project was being managed by a Project Board and Team.


On 19 March 2018 various documents were submitted to the HLF for a mid-stage review including (i) a reviewed and updated Project Vision “The Staffordshire History Centre will create imaginative and exciting ways to connect Staffordshire people and their stories”; (ii) a reviewed and updated Activity Plan which gave greater detail about the activities to be delivered, set more ambitious targets and included the development of the Active Partnership initiative; (iii) an Interpretation Plan setting out new proposals for the interpretation of the History Centre; (iv) Architectural Designs for the Centre; (v) revised Business, Maintenance and Management Plans which included financial data, forecasts and anticipated maintenance costs over a ten year period and; (vi) a Conservation Management Plan.


During her presentation of the report the Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that all project costs had been reviewed and compared against those included in the Round 1 bid. Assuming that the bids for matched funding were successful it was considered that the project remained both affordable and deliverable. A total of £614,000 match funding had already been secured and a further £336,000 was being sought.


The outcome of the mid stage review was expected to be received from the HLF by the end of April 2018 and depending on the outcome, a Stage 2 bid would be submitted prior to their 14 June 2018 deadline.


During the discussion which ensued Members thanked officers from both authorities for the work they had undertaken to date in supporting the mid stage review. The Deputy Chief Executive informed them that the HLF had reduced funding available to support projects going forward and therefore the next bidding round was likely to be very competitive. Commenting on the review in general she said that various external partners had been involved and the process had been detailed and thorough. In response to a question from the member representative of the City Council, she said that in the event Stage 2 funding did not become available, further consideration as to how the service would achieve Archive Service Accreditation would be required. Although it was difficult to envisage how the bid could be re-submitted in its entirety, it might be possible pursue smaller projects included in the Activity Plan.               


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


(b) That the Committee thank officers from both Partner Authorities for the work they had undertaken in supporting the Heritage Lottery Fund’s mid-stage review of the Staffordshire History Centre Project.            


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