Snibston Discovery Museum's main Gallery is, as I write, soon to be demolished and along with it the false hope of a 'smaller mining museum'.
After turning down £4.2M of Heritage Lottery funding, dismissing the Friend of Snibston's expert-led business case in favour of a one-page fantasy, airbrushing Snibston from County Council volunteer events and performance reports, it is a small relief to see the ruling Tory Group finally admit that they are, as predicted, moth-balling the Scheduled Ancient Monument. This will cost you, the council tax payer, £320k a year, every year, in perpetuity with no sustained plan to fund the inevitable repairs needed in the longer term.
Further cuts to the Communities and Wellbeing department, responsible for Museums and Libraries, means that, rather than doing things ‘to’ and ‘for’ residents the County Council is hoping to work ‘with’ them. We are told that future services will be co-designed and co-developed with communities and other stakeholders.
I sincerely hope that Arts and Heritage Societies in Coalville will see this promise as a challenge. Coalville is a living breathing Victorian artefact whose very streets and buildings tell the history of Victorian entrepreneurship and Protestant philanthropy. Major funding bodies such as Arts Council England, the European Social Fund and Heritage Lottery are ready and willing to work with cohesive communities like ours.
The embarrassing state of Snibston’s Ancient Monument will not encourage major funders to hand their largesse direct to Councillors seen as responsible for its decline. If Coalville’s heritage is to attract visitors to our town we, the people, will need show the way and take the lead.