Future of Hitchin Town Hall still undecided

THE prospect of Hitchin Town Hall becoming the district s museum has been thrown into the melting pot. Members of North Herts District Council s (NHDC) scrutiny committee voted unanimously on Tuesday night to ask the council s cabinet to reconsider all a

THE prospect of Hitchin Town Hall becoming the district's museum has been thrown into the melting pot.

Members of North Herts District Council's (NHDC) scrutiny committee voted unanimously on Tuesday night to ask the council's cabinet to reconsider all aspects of the recommendations to close Letchworth Museum and turn Hitchin Town Hall into the museum for North Herts.

The resolution passed by the committee said: "We are asking the cabinet to revisit all aspects of the options for improvement of museum services in the district while delivering efficiency savings.

"The cabinet should examine ways to retain sustainable community use of Hitchin Town Hall irrespective of any decision regarding the museum service.


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"Cabinet must also reconsider their decision to close Letchworth Museum until such time a new museum provision is available."

The committee also asked for the item concerning the feasibility study outcome of the Hitchin Town Hall Museum to be deleted from the agenda.

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Committee chairman Cllr Lawrence Oliver said: "Cabinet has got to make a decision next week along the lines which they are proposing or reconsider the matter.

"Yes, we are concerned about getting a proper museum service for the district and it is quite clear important decisions will have to be taken quickly and urgently. I would say within a few months."

Keith Hoskins, Hitchin town centre manager, told councillors: "We believe that except in cases of national importance a museum is not a destination stop. A town hall is for a distinct purpose and these purposes have distinct knock on benefits for the local economy and for good causes."

Mr Hoskins called on NHDC to refurbish Hitchin Town Hall and let it realise its full potential and look for new premises for a museum in the town and enter into discussions with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation to expand a single museum there under its stewardship.

Chris Parker, chairman of Keep Hitchin Special, will present a 5,000-signature petition to NHDC Cabinet on Tuesday urging it to retain Hitchin Town Hall.

"The town hall is a valuable commodity for the community of Hitchin and should be retained for community use," said Mr Parker.

"Keith Hoskins made it quite plain that we would like to run the town hall as a community venture where it could be far better managed.

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