Future funding protects the past

Somerset County Council has renewed its commitment to the county’s heritage – agreeing to maintain its funding at current levels for the next five years.

Despite the huge pressures on its budget, the Council will grant the South West Heritage Trust over £1.6m per year over the next five years – £8.1m in total.

The decision, made by the Council’s Cabinet this week, recognises the excellent work done by the trust since it was created and the contribution it makes financially and culturally to Somerset.

Heritage services previously run by Somerset County Council and Devon County Council moved into a trust in 2014. These include the Museum of Somerset, the Somerset Rural Life Museum and the Somerset Archives and Local Studies Service.

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said: “We’re very grateful to the County Council for its strong and continuing commitment to the work of the Trust. It means we can continue to care for Somerset’s remarkable heritage in the way it deserves and to bring it alive for thousands of Somerset people and for visitors to the county.”

Since being set up in 2014, the trust has seen 427,000 visits to its museums and archive services, 45,000 children take part in learning workshops, 36,000 people take part in family learning sessions and 114,000 hours contributed by volunteers.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “Celebrating our heritage is hugely important on so many levels, not least in terms of tourism and attracting people to Somerset as a place to live and work.

“The trust was created so it could access funding from other sources and not be reliant on the hard-pressed local government finances. Since then it has flourished, and we’re confident that it will go from strength to strength, generate more and more of its own income and continue to thrive.”

You can see the full report of the South Heritage Trust Annual Report on the Council’s website: http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/documents/s10680/SWHT%20Cabinet%20Decsion%20Final.pdf