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Joint group set to be formed to come up with solutions over Lowestoft Record Office closure

PUBLISHED: 20:00 22 July 2018

The Save Our record Office campaign group 

The Save Our record Office campaign group Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Archant © 2018

A joint task group from two councils will thrash out ideas for a solution over controversial plans to close Lowestoft Record Office.

Lowestoft Record Office is under threat of closure PIcture: NICK BUTCHERLowestoft Record Office is under threat of closure PIcture: NICK BUTCHER

A motion was put forward at last week’s county council meeting by Labour councillors calling for the planned closure to be postponed.

But an amended motion was formed by the ruling Conservatives which vowed to form a joint scrutiny committee with Waveney District Council where a solution could be thrashed out.

Plans under former county council leader Colin Noble proposed to close the Lowestoft office and move all records to the new facility, The Hold, being developed in Ipswich, leading to public anger and a petition of more than 7,000 signatures opposing it.

Earlier this year, new leader Matthew Hicks said he wanted to keep records in Lowestoft.

The amended motion was passed with 55 votes in favour and five against.

Mark Bee, who put forward the amended motion, said: “We all realise we have got to come up with a better solution than what we are operating, and be clear what we can offer local people.

“I really think there are lessons to be learnt from the process we have gone through so far.

“Local people can have the opportunity to have their say with public participation within that.”

Keith Patience, Labour councillor for Gunton who put forward the original motion said there were options to either reinforce the existing strongroom, which is suffering from damp that is threatening valuable archives, or to develop the former magistrates’ court or old Town Hall.

He added: “We know there are strong reports of keeping the record office in tact in Lowestoft. We are simply requesting the closure of the record office is removed.

“The reason for the request is so all interested parties can get together and explore the funding.”

The Save Our Record Office (SORO) campaign group expressed serious concerns over how the decision had got to this stage, but said they would work with the committee.

Secretary Andrew Pearce said: “If the joint scrutiny goes ahead, we will participate and attempt to submit our concerns and evidence. But we have no faith whatsoever in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the proposed joint scrutiny.”

The group wrote to the councillors following the decision outlining their worries, which included the involvement of Waveney over a county council decision, what it will mean for the public consultation due in late spring and allegations of misleading statements regarding its link to The Hold.

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