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Ipswich: Council seeking extra space for records as plans for Suffolk Heritage Centre are shelved

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 January 2014

The Suffolk Records Office in Ipswich.

The Suffolk Records Office in Ipswich.

Archant

Heritage groups in Suffolk have reacted with dismay to the county council’s decision to put on hold proposals to build a new centre to hold all its records.

The authority had been planning to develop a new Suffolk Heritage Centre holding all the county’s records – probably in Ipswich.

However this proposal has been put on ice. Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for localities, said: “Given the significant financial challenges the county council is currently facing, this is not considered a viable option at this time.”

As an alternative, the county is now looking at finding extra space linked to its existing records offices in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

It is also planning to go ahead with “digitising” its records – putting them all online – but this could take many years to complete.

Now the Friends of the Suffolk Record Office have written an open letter to county council chairman Guy McGregor expressing concern at the freezing of the plans to build the heritage centre.

The letter was drawn up by Friends’ chairman Dr Paul Simmons and signed by other members of the Suffolk Heritage Forum.

They say they are concerned that the decision was taken for political reasons after people in west Suffolk expressed concern about moving records away from Bury.

The letter says they are not worried about where the centre should be – but feel it is necessary to have documents and artifacts stored in a suitable environment and that they are easily accessible to those who want to use them.

But the letter adds: “We support the digitisation of the archives.

“This will undoubtedly facilitate access but, with the best will in the world, the five-year action plan will only make a fraction of those archives available for reading on the web.”

The letter concludes: “We urge the council to re-consider its decision, or to put forward an equally viable proposal to enhance heritage facilities.”

A spokesman for the county said it would continue to work with the Suffolk Heritage Forum, district and borough councils and University Campus Suffolk to explore opportunities for the heritage services.

The owner of a Bury St Edmunds pub which was forced to close after fire engulfed the neighbouring property has thanked the community for their support ahead of its reopening in two weeks.

The Orwell Bridge is expected to close for the third time this winter as high winds are forecast again on Wednesday night.

A mentally-ill Bury St Edmunds man accused of killing a 57-year-old man by stabbing him multiple times has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Essex Wildlife Trust has responded to reports that a black panther has been sighted in a rural village in the county.

Suffolk Day will take place on Thursday, June 21, this year - we asked people in Ipswich their favourite thing about Suffolk.

Feeling safe on the streets, career prospects and retirement plans are among the top concerns for women in Suffolk and Essex, a survey reveals.

Proposals to build a new multi-million pound rail depot on the Suffolk/Essex border at Brantham near Manningtree are being reconsidered by Greater Anglia.

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