Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton's SeaCity Museum fails to meet targets

SeaCity museum Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a £4.9m grant towards the cost while the city council contributed the rest of the £15m budget for the museum

Southampton's council-run SeaCity Museum is failing to meet its projected visitor numbers and income targets.

A BBC Freedom of Information request has found the city council has paid £430,000 into the attraction since it opened in April 2012.

Southampton City Council said the figures were "disappointing" but added it was not unusual for attractions to see a revenue dip in their second year.

It said a renewed effort would be made to increase takings.

Visitor numbers at the £15m museum were 10,000 short of its target of 250,000 in the first two years.

'Horribly wrong'

Its income was projected to be £2,035,200 but only £1,566,857 was generated.

With running costs of £2,003,181, the project has cost the council more than £430,000 since it opened.

Control of the council has changed from Conservative to Labour since the opening of the museum.

Current deputy leader, Labour's Stephen Barnes-Andrews said the planning had been "horribly wrong".

"That figure will have to be worked on - the business model it was set up on has not achieved the results it has meant to," he said.

Conservative John Hannides, who held the council's leisure and culture cabinet post when the museum was built, said: "While the figures are disappointing, there is a lot we can do to boost those figures."

He said the Conservative administration had always planned to investigate outsourcing to a specialist commercial operator.

He also insisted a free ticket giveaway to Southampton residents had been "factored in" to the initial income projections.

Mr Barnes-Andrews said no options were ruled out but the council would try and boost attendance.

"We need to increase the footfall and make the marketing more focused. It's my responsibility to reduce that revenue gap."

He added research showed the museum was having a wider benefit within the city centre's economy.

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