Temporary funding agreement reached for North Devon Record Office

Posted on: 16 November 2015

Plans to secure the future of North Devon’s Record Office have received a welcome boost, thanks to the collective effort of Devon County Council and Barnstaple Town Council.

Continued financial pressures meant the County Council was questioning whether it could afford to maintain the Records Office in Barnstaple, in addition to the main Heritage Centre in Exeter.

New Government spending targets means that a further £110 million of savings are likely to be needed over the next 4 years with £35 million of this in the coming year 2016/17.

Now, having recognised the strength of feeling locally, the County Council has identified £12,500 of the £22,500 required run the Record’s Office until the end of the financial year, with the two County Council members for Barnstaple, Cllr Brian Greenslade (Barnstaple North) and Cllr John Mathews (Barnstaple South) contributing £5,000 each from their locality budgets.

Barnstaple Town Council has led a campaign to raise the additional £10,000 through town and parish councils and other local groups in the North Devon and Torridge area.

The funding will ensure the Record Office remains open while a longer term plan for the North Devon Record Office is agreed by the County Council and the South West Heritage Trust, who manage the County’s heritage services.

Proposals include a heritage outreach officer post based within the record office at Barnstaple Library to allow access to the record office three days a week, and deliver outreach and community based activities.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for the Heritage Service, said:

“We recognise the importance of ensuring continued access to heritage resources for the people of North Devon; however we can’t sustain the record office in Barnstaple without local support.

“Although it is good news that the record office will remain open until at least March next year, we must now work together to find more sustainable solution to providing heritage services in the area for the future.”

Cllr Sue Haywood, Chairman of Barnstaple Town Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee said:

“The Records Office is the home of North Devon’s most important historic records dating back as far as the 10th century, including Barnstaple’s own town charters.  It is also visited by some 3,500 people each year, researching local and family history.

Barnstaple Town Council is determined that the service should remain available locally and we will continue to work with the County Council, town and parish councils and other local stakeholders to secure a long term agreement.”

Barnstaple North County Councillor Brian Greenslade said:

“The North Devon Records Office is a vital component of life in the north of the county and very many people in our community did not find favour with our records being taken off to Exeter.

“It was not just about this community being able to access our history our heritage very many people with North Devon connections came to Barnstaple to trace their family and community history.

“Like with the Knowstone service area on the link road, which was going to be closed, local engagement can often find an alternative which allows facilities to remain.

“The co-operation between DCC, Barnstaple Town Council and ourselves as the local County Councillors as found a much satisfactory way through this and our records will remain in North Devon.”

Cllr John Mathews, Devon County Council’s local member for Barnstaple South said:

“I am happy to support this worthwhile community resource for the people of North Devon, and beyond.

“It is well used by local people to research their family history.”

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