The Council running Broxbourne’s Lowewood Museum on behalf of residents for the past 7 years has expressed disappointment at the anticipated closure of the service.
National Lottery bid plans shelved
Broxbourne councillors are expected to announce the closure of the museum at the meeting of Broxbourne Borough Council’s cabinet meeting tonight (16 December 2019). Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) withdrew from the Service Level Agreement to run Lowewood, after Broxbourne Council shelved plans for a National Lottery bid to expand and enhance the service and indicated closure was the most likely outcome.
Epping Forest District Council has managed Lowewood on behalf of Broxbourne under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) since 2012. Broxbourne Council has thanked EFDC for its commitment and expertise in the development and running of Lowewood Museum since that time.
Services at Lowewood had expanded under Epping Forest District Council’s management with a greater programme to build audience engagement and access to Broxbourne’s heritage. EFDC also attracted external funding for the service based in Hoddesdon.
At Broxbourne’s request, EFDC’s staff, with support from Broxbourne officers, put together a professionally prepared enquiry to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to provide funding to create a new fully accessible museum at a different site (the Spinning Wheel).
The local match funding required to obtain £2million investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the proposed scheme would have been in the region of £600,000, which it was proposed would be met by fundraising and a capital contribution from Broxbourne.
One of the conditions for National Lottery funding was a commitment by Broxbourne to fund the museum for the next 25 years. To offset extra costs, the proposal included a range of opportunities to raise income through room hire, a cafe and other commercial activities.
EFDC has a strong track record of investment in its own Museum in Waltham Abbey and believed it could do a similar job for Broxbourne. Sadly, given the current economic climate, and Broxbourne Council’s projected future funding gap, Broxbourne Council informed EFDC that it had decided it did not wish to proceed with the proposed project because of the financial implications.
The right time to give notice
Broxbourne informed EFDC that it could no longer justify the move to another site. Nor would other Broxbourne Council investment in Lowewood be forthcoming and the future viability of the service would be discussed at a forthcoming Council meeting.
As Broxbourne is not able to invest or commit to the future of its museum service, EFDC believed that it was the right time to give notice and terminate the SLA. Management will therefore revert back to Broxbourne from 30 June 2020.
Since EFDC’s decision to withdraw from the current SLA, it has helped Broxbourne explore other options to save Lowewood, including a revised EFDC SLA to allow the museum to stay open while Broxbourne establish a Museum Trust.
Goodbye to Lowewood Museum
EFDC will continue to work with other partners and concentrate on developing its own museum service in Waltham Abbey.
A spokesperson for EFDC said: “It is with heavy hearts that we are saying goodbye to Lowewood Museum. We have a passion for museum, culture and heritage services and have made many friends in Broxbourne over the past 7 years.”
“It is a great shame that our partnership cannot continue but we wish our friends in Broxbourne all the best for the future, while we concentrate on the continued enhancement and delivery of our own museum service.”