Residents are paying double taxation’ for running museum

PUBLISHED: 14:43 25 October 2007 | UPDATED: 15:17 12 May 2010

RESIDENTS are paying double taxation on the running of the Royston and District Museum, claims a town councillor. And he wants North Herts District Council to consider making a contribution to the museum s running costs. Cllr Robert Smith, who led a wor

RESIDENTS are paying "double taxation" on the running of the Royston and District Museum, claims a town councillor.

And he wants North Herts District Council to consider making a contribution to the museum's running costs.

Cllr Robert Smith, who led a working party looking into museum funding, told the town council's Finance committee on Monday evening: "It's the view of the working party that this is a case of double taxation."

In other words, residents were paying for museums across North Herts through Council Tax and making an additional contribution to the Royston and District Museum through the town council's precept.

Cllr Smith said there was a long history behind the district council's role in the Royston museum, but this was now "all water under the bridge".

There was a time under a scheme known as concurrent functions when the district council contributed to the running of the museum.

This, however, came to end several years ago and since then the district council has not made a direct contribution to the museum.

It is true, however, that the district council provides museum services which the Royston museum has the right to use.

Cllr Smith received support on a recommendation that town councillors and museum trustees meet with district councillors.

He said the idea behind such a meeting would be to see whether Royston's district councillors supported the museum.

"It's important we establish whether that support is there," said Cllr Smith. "The only positive way forward is to talk to our district councillors."

Under legislation the town council does not have the power to run a museum and it currently carries out its duties on an agency basis for the district council.

Town clerk Susan Thornton-Bjork told the committee: "The district council can choose whether it wants a museum in Royston."

But she added that it would be "unlikely" whether it ever considered closing down the museum.

In the town council's draft budget more than £68,500 has been earmarked for museum expenditure next year.

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