Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Museums at Cabinet

The title is not a reference to Labour! While Labour may be doing everything under Comrade Corbyn to consign themselves to being an exhibit in the Museum of the Self-Destructed and Deluded, this post is actually about the museums service in Tyne and Wear. I am one of Gateshead's three representatives on the joint committee that runs Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. The committee is now to be abolished and the functions will be transferred to a board which will have no opposition members on it. Instead, there will be one representative from each council who will be the relevant cabinet portfolio holder. I've raised my concerns about this at a previous TWAM meeting but yesterday, at Cabinet, the report on the change over was considered.

I actually have no objections to the change to an executive board. TWAM need to increase their income from non-council sources and rely less on contributions from local councils. The new board will help to achieve that. The problem comes with the elimination of non-Labour voices. There are many of us who are not in the Labour party who can and do make a contribution to the running of the service. For example, I have advised officers on how to produce video material and gain an income from it (I am a YouTube partner and earn a modest income from advertising revenue). I warned at cabinet yesterday that the new arrangements will mean a reduced gene pool of  experience and expertise that could be brought to TWAM by restricting the political input to Labour only. I also said there needs to be a role for scrutiny that seems to be missing from the proposals. I suggested the council's corporate resources scrutiny committee takes on that function. I also suggested that the reports on the various establishments managed by TWAM which currently are reported to the joint committee are sent to all councillors.

To be fair to Gateshead Labour leader Martin Gannon, he was open to the proposals I had put forward and said that there would be a review in a year that could consider the issue of opposition representation. Sadly however I will have to cut my ties with TWAM in May next year when the joint committee is abolished.

No comments: