Following the summer break mentioned in our previous newsletter we were hoping to come back saying that we had already successfully started our fundraising for Phase II of the 31 broad street project. Well the good news is that we have. The £3,000 needed for the development of the full business case for the project has been secured from a local charity. However, also over the summer, the bad news is that Herefordshire Council, together with the Hereford Museum Service Support group, have chosen to go ahead with a consultancy project into the future of the museum service, which cuts across the next stages of our 31 broad street work, to re-imagine and redevelop the Library and Museum building on Broad Street, that has always been predicated on including both the Library, the Museum and the Art Gallery.
When a project that you are working on is fundamentally changed by actions beyond your control it is clear that things cannot continue as if nothing has happened. It is not known whether the museum future that emerges from the new project at the end of the year will be part of the broad street building or not – one of the many possibilities is that a museum could be built elsewhere. Consequently the Hereford Library Users Group, to whom 31 broad street reports, have decided, in the interests of honesty and integrity, to put the 31 broad street project on hold, inform the charity that it cannot accept the £3000 grant for the development of the full business case and to seek no further grant or charitable funding until the position about the inclusion of the museum has been clarified.
The Hereford Library Users Group deeply regret that the work on the 31 broad street project has had to be put on hold due to these circumstances as it will mean that it will not be possible to meet the deadline set by the Cabinet of the Council for the 31 broad street team to report back with worked up plans and a satisfactory business plan by May 2018.
The 31 Broad Street group has worked very hard over the past 14 months, with consultancy support, to establish that it is feasible, and affordable to develop the Library and Museum building on Broad Street and that people want this to happen. Les Watson, Chair of HLUG, said: “For the Council to initiate a project that will explore alternative futures for the museum at this stage completely undermines the work of the 31 broad street project and makes a mockery of the considerable effort expended by the volunteers involved.”