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Rally to Save York's National Railway Museum to be Held


11:52am 13th June 2013
(Updated 1:21pm 13th June 2013)

A rally is taking place this Saturday in York against funding cuts for national museums which could affect the National Railway Museum.

The rally comes after news cuts to the Science Museum Group will likely mean one of its three northern museums having to close.  Critics say the move looks all the more inevitable given the Government’s not reversing its museums funding decision combined with a policy of not charging for entry to national museums.

City of York Council Leader, Coun. James Alexander, said:

“The National Railway Museum has widespread support locally, nationally and internationally.  The idea of it closing is difficult I think for most people to imagine, and I believe Saturday’s event will highlight the strength of public feeling in support of keeping it open for the nation’s education and enjoyment.

“The educational benefits and the role the museum plays within the wider York economy cannot be underestimated.  Nor can its role in the advancement of science and technology both within the city and within a national economic context.  

“Such is the mass appeal and varied benefits of this nationally important museum, any decision which resulted in its closure would haunt the Government for years to come.  I hope it sees sense before it is too late and gets around a table with the Science Museum Group; a solution has to be found.

“I urge anyone who has ever visited the NRM, who values it or who recognises its importance to York’s economy to go to the Museum’s city entrance (next to the rear entrance to York Railway Station) this Saturday at 12 Noon in a mass show of support.  We need to show how serious an issue this is for York as a city.

“Following speeches there will be the opportunity to visit the museum to show further support and to celebrate the huge contribution the NRM makes to the city”.

Speakers are currently being confirmed for the rally. York Central MP Hugh Bayley has agreed to speak and Coun. Alexander is also inviting York Outer MP Julian Sturdy MP to speak.

Meanwhile, council Leaders from across the Leeds City Region have sent a letter to the Chancellor, George Osborne, expressing their concerns about potential further cuts to the national Science Museum Group’s funding, following the Government’s spending review at the end of June.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, the National Railway Museum in York, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Science Museum in London are run by the Science Museum Group. 

The Science Museum Group, which has already made 25 per cent cuts since 2010, has to address a large projected financial deficit from 2014 onwards. The Science Museum Group has said that if an additional 10 per cent cut is made in the spending review at the end of this month, they would have very little choice than to close one of the northern national science museums, as their year-on-year financial deficit would rise from £2 million to £6 million.

These northern national museums play a crucial role in educating and inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers, to drive our country’s economy and its international competitiveness. The museums are also vital to the local and regional economies of Bradford, York and Manchester.

The National Railway Museum in York is at the heart of tourism in the city attracting 700,000 visitors a year with an economic impact of between £40-50 million GVA: a critical part of York’s visitor offer planned to be a significant factor in the city’s plans to double the value of tourism in ten years. 

Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders Board, said: "In our letter to the Chancellor we propose that funding for the Science Museum Group is moved from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Also that the current level of funding is protected, in the long term interests of our northern cities and the nation as a whole.”

Cllr James Alexander, Leader of City of York Council, said: "The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has a £13 million ‘science and society’ programme and spends its money on a plethora of initiatives, but not on the Science Museum Group.  This does not make sense because the science museums are trusted by the public and teachers and have the best experience of presenting science with the greatest impact and reach across the country.”

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, said: "Meetings have taken place between Bradford, York and Manchester councils and with the Science Museum Group to discuss how we might support the future of the national science museums in our cities. Clearly, the economic and cultural impact of closing a national science museum in Bradford, York or Manchester would be devastating.”

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