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Labour's discussions with York Museums Trust detailed

Labour today confirms the details of discussions between former Cabinet Members and the York Museums Trust (YMT) before reducing the Trust’s annual grant settlement.
Former council leader James Alexander and Cabinet Member Coun. Sonja Crisp both met with YMT in February 2014 to meet the then new Chairman, together with YMT’s Chief Executive, with discussions touching on funding.
And although the issue of charging for entry to museums under its management and to the art gallery was not raised with Labour councillors, the possibility of charging for access to Museum Gardens was raised by YMT and dismissed as a possibility, explains Labour Group Leader, Coun. Dafydd Williams:
“Everyone was well aware of the financial challenges that would result from cutting the Trust’s funding, so the issue was how best to tackle those challenges. Charging for access to the gardens was raised as a possibility, but Labour councillors dismissed this as a possibility”.
The previous Labour administration did agree a capital sum of £1m be allocated to the Trust to enable it to develop alternative revenue streams that would lead to a reduced reliance on council grant funding.  This was designed to mitigate the impact of the proposed grant reduction, which YMT accepted.
“Charging for entry to the Museum’s buildings was never raised in any meetings with Labour councillors and no agreement or encouragement was given for it, tacitly or otherwise. We have consistently opposed any possibility of charging for entry to museums and galleries”, added Coun. Williams. 
“What we have is an Executive Member struggling to get to grips with his portfolio and trying to deflect attention from the decisions he is now responsible for by making inaccurate assumptions about meetings that took place 18 months ago.
“He is still unwilling to state whether York residents should gain free access or not and instead of using his authority to clarify the position, instead seeks to deflect attention from the real issue of his own role in this by apportioning blame elsewhere, and by making insinuation without fact.
“His focus should be on sorting out this sorry mess which continues to cause embarrassment to the city”.

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