Bid to keep historic records in town

A LAST ditch attempt is being made to prevent Colchester's historic documents from being lost to Chelmsford.Conservative-led Essex County Council has agreed to the relocation, which would signal the closure of the Colchester Records Office at Stanwell House.

A LAST ditch attempt is being made to prevent Colchester's historic documents from being lost to Chelmsford.

Conservative-led Essex County Council has agreed to the relocation, which would signal the closure of the Colchester Records Office at Stanwell House.

A formal decision was made by Peter Martin, county council cabinet member for planning, environment and culture, last Friday.

The records have been housed in Colchester for more than 25 years but are set to be moved 25 miles away to the new Essex Records Office as part of modernisation plans.


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However, members of the county council's Liberal Democrat group have questioned the move and called the decision in, saying people in the town want to keep the documents.

They are seeking an opportunity to reopen discussions that would see at least some of the more notable documents kept in the town.

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A meeting between Theresa Higgins, Liberal Democrat spokesman for community services, and Mr Martin will be held on January 4 to try to resolve the matter.

Mrs Higgins said: “I'm sure the residents of Colchester will want to see this unique collection of records remain in the town for residents, students and visitors to see in situ.

“We are hoping to persuade the Conservatives to change their minds and allow the complete collection of records to remain in Colchester.”

While Colchester Borough Council is not against the principle of an expanded and improved record office in Chelmsford, leader Robert Davidson said efforts must be made to keep at least some documents in Colchester. He was adamant items owned by the borough council, such as the town charter, would not be moving, whatever the outcome.

He said: “History and tourism are a really important part of Colchester culture and access to anything that will improve people's understanding and knowledge of the town is really valuable.”

Jeremy Lucas, Conservative county council executive member for heritage, culture and the arts, said centralisation would offer better facilities and hopefully increase the number of people using the archives.

He said: “It is the Essex Record Service, paid for by council tax payers county-wide and it is therefore right that they should be provided in the best possible conditions.”

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

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