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Museum fees 'a barrier to far too many'

PUBLISHED: 10:06 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 July 2010

MUSEUM chiefs were warned last night not to increase admission charges through the backdoor.

Norfolk County Council's museums service wants to boost admissions income by £28,000 and museums chief Vanessa Trevelyan will today set out plans to restructure the fees package - which could actually include a reduction in charges at the Castle Museum in Norwich and Yarmouth's Time and Tide.

MUSEUM chiefs were warned last night not to increase admission charges through the backdoor.

Norfolk County Council's museums service wants to boost admissions income by £28,000 and museums chief Vanessa Trevelyan will today set out plans to restructure the fees package - which could actually include a reduction in charges at the Castle Museum in Norwich and Yarmouth's Time and Tide.

But county councillor George Nobbs, Labour spokesman for culture, fears visitors will bear the brunt of the initiative by being asked to hand over more money at the door.

Mr Nobbs said he was concerned changes were being introduced with little discussion or public consultation - and he was concerned any price hike decision lay in the hands of officers and not elected members.

“Admission charges are already high enough and we simply will not accept any further increase,” he said.

“Six pounds 50, which is the full price for the Castle Museum, is just too high and puts an unacceptable barrier to far too many of our citizens.”

And he said the authority should look at finding the £800,000 a year needed to provide a free museums service.

“People are already paying for this service through their council tax and they aren't given any choice about that.

“I know that the people who elected me don't think that the charges are reasonable and it's my party's policy to abolish them altogether.

“In the meantime we are determined to fight any further increases.”

Yet with a better than expected funding deal from government, it is still not clear whether any changes will be needed at all.

John Gretton, cabinet member for cultural services said Mr Nobbs had failed to see the total picture and the administration was planning to look at a restructuring of charges which could include a reduction in admissions in some museums in a bid to attract more visitors.

“I am not going to go to the leader and say I would like museums to be free,” he said.

“Research shows that if you make them free you are just giving a present to the middle classes and you don't necessarily get to those hard to reach groups. Our policy is to have more targeted initiatives.”

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