Stoke 'may have to fight' to save Wedgwood Museum

Pottery at the Wedgwood Museum The museum is facing a test case, the MP says

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Stoke-on-Trent residents may have a "fight on their hands" to save the Wedgwood Collection, an MP says.

The Wedgwood Museum, in Barlaston, was put into administration in March after the transferral of a £134m pension debt from the collapse of the pottery firm.

Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, met Culture Minister Ed Vaizey ahead of a court case to decide its future.

Mr Hunt said, however, ministers have pledged to help save the collection.

Waterford Wedgwood Plc went into administration in January 2009. The museum trust inherited its £134m pension debt, leading to fears it will have to sell valuable artefacts to fill the black hole.

Mr Hunt said it was unclear what a court case, expected later this year, would bring because it was a "test case" of legislation to protect pension funds.

"We are the guinea pig for this legislation and the cost of it could be our collection," he said.

He added: "I have to say we will have a fight on our hands as a city if the case goes against us."

'Good meeting'

He said the case could decide if other museums attached to local authorities, universities and businesses "could also be plundered to fill pension black holes".

However, Mr Hunt added he had a "very good meeting" with Mr Vaizey and his officials and they discussed the options if the court decided the collection was an asset and could be sold off.

He said the minister would be talking to heritage bodies and other bodies to try and save the collection "intact".

The museum, which remains open, won the £100,000 Art Fund prize in 2009.

The viable parts of Waterford Wedgwood were bought by an American private equity firm, KPS Capital Partners last year, saving many jobs in the company - which was renamed WWRD Holdings.

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