County archivist axe decision criticised
By Sharon AsplinA DECISION to axe the post of county archivist has been condemned by a national organisation.The position has fallen victim to cuts made by Essex County Council to its environment, heritage and culture budgets - part of a wider range of measures intended by the ruling Conservatives to keep council tax bills down next year.
By Sharon Asplin
A DECISION to axe the post of county archivist has been condemned by a national organisation.
The position has fallen victim to cuts made by Essex County Council to its environment, heritage and culture budgets - part of a wider range of measures intended by the ruling Conservatives to keep council tax bills down next year.
Bruce Jackson, chairman of the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government, said he had been concerned to read in the East Anglian Daily Times that the council leader, Lord Hanningfield, had stated “not many counties have a head archivist”.
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He added: “I feel I must refute this assertion. While few counties have a county archivist at chief officer level, the overwhelming majority still have archive services, headed by a professionally-qualified archivist with control over the Record Office budget and with direct access to elected members.
“It is widely felt that such a situation is essential if Record Offices are to be in a position to argue effectively for sufficient resources for their services.
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“It is a great sadness to see an authority like Essex County Council - which has been a national pioneer in many areas of ensuring the preservation of and access to the archival heritage - taking what many fear may be the first steps towards the decline of a much regarded and valued service.”
Lord Hanningfield was not available for comment last night, but he has publicly stated his intention to improve the use of council buildings and to increase the income generated from them.
He said last month: “Not many counties actually have a head archivist. Our priority is maintaining the Record Office. The service will be provided in exactly the same way.”
The Essex Record Office is a flagship organisation and the Chelmsford building has been modernised to maintain its extensive records collection.
The cutbacks have also been criticised by the Victoria County History of Essex Appeal Fund.