Lincolnshire heritage attractions face council funding axe

Poppies at Lincoln Castle Image copyright Lincolnshire County Council
Image caption Seven sites, including Lincoln Castle and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, currently receive council subsides

Heritage attractions in Lincolnshire could be responsible for their own finances after councillors approved plans to look at how the service is funded.

The county council wants attractions to generate their own income and reinvest it, rather than relying on a budget from the authority.

Councillor Nick Worth said it would lead to more innovation.

Opponents said the plans could "seriously damage" the service.

Seven sites, including Lincoln Castle and Gainsborough Old Hall, currently receive subsidies from the Conservative-led county council.

Image caption Gainsborough Old Hall - a medieval manor house reputed to be haunted by the Grey Lady - now hosts weddings to generate extra income

Mr Worth, executive member for culture and heritage, said greater autonomy would benefit both parties.

"The council's budget position is not going to improve. We've got an estimated budget shortfall of £74m over the next three years, on top of the £145m we've cut from the budget since 2010," he said.

"By giving the heritage service a target to fund itself, we're saving the taxpayer money and keeping the attractions open."

Currently, money made by the attractions goes back into council coffers, with heritage receiving an annual budget of about £2m.

The new model will mean the service keeps everything it makes in order to fund its activities, the authority said.

More on this and other local stories from across Lincolnshire

However, Marianne Overton, leader of the Independent group on the county council, said: "It is so important to bring heritage to life, but I'm not sure contracting it all out for less money will be the answer."

Lincolnshire County Council said a full consultation would take place before any final decisions were made.

Council-run heritage sites

Image copyright Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
  • Gainsborough Old Hall is a medieval manor house built by the noble Burgh family in about 1460. It is built on the site where Danish ruler Sweyn Forkbeard was declared King of all England in 1013, and the town its capital
  • Lincoln Castle reopened last year after a multimillion-pound refurbishment. A recent exhibition of ceramic poppies marking the centenary of World War One attracted more than 500,000 visitors
  • The Collection and Usher Gallery feature archaeology artefacts and portraits, including scenes of Lincoln by L.S. Lowry and J.M.W. Turner
  • The Lincolnshire Archives hold historic records, including details of 2,000 convicts transported from the county to Australia, Bermuda and Gibraltar between 1788-1868
  • The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is home to the only airworthy Lancaster bomber in the UK
  • The Museum of Lincolnshire Life has more than 250,000 objects related to the county's social history

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