Archbishop of York 'shocked' by threat to northern museums

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
Image caption Dr John Sentamu said it was important to remember the country's heritage

The Archbishop of York has said he is "shocked" by warnings that one of three museums in the north of England will close if funding is cut any further.

The warning was issued by the Science Museum Group (SMG) last week.

It said either York's National Railway Museum, the National Media Museum in Bradford or the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester could close.

Dr John Sentamu said: "Too often we are seeing communities across the north of England bearing the brunt."

Image caption Science Museum Group (SMG), which runs the three attractions, has warned of its "weak" finances

SMG, which also runs the Science Museum in London, has said a further 10% cut in government funding would leave it with "little choice" but to close one of the museums.

Dr Sentamu said individuals deserved access to "decent services regardless of where they lived".

He said, as a York resident, he knew the National Railway Museum was one of the leading attractions in the country.

'Great poverty'

The museums in Bradford and Manchester were also "thriving attractions", he added.

Dr Sentamu said: "A country which forgets its heritage becomes senile."

Speaking about a north-south economic divide he said: "Too often we are seeing communities across the north of England bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. We need to see a level playing field."

Dr Sentamu said the Church had a unique role serving the poor and vulnerable at a grassroots level and his experience of the Fairness Commission in York had shown him "great poverty" as well as "great prosperity".

"But poverty should not just be measured in what you earn, it should also be measured in your physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing," he added.

Dr Sentamu said grant funding had to be fair otherwise "our great libraries of learning will be lost forever".

On Tuesday it was announced a parliamentary inquiry was to be held into the future of the museums run by SMG.

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