Friday, 7 September 2012

Scrutiny backs St Austell as site for new archive and records office

Today's meeting of Cornwall's Communities Scrutiny Committee decided that St Austell is the best place to host the new archive and records office for Cornwall. The St Austell bid was chosen above those from Redruth and Hayle.

The decision to go for a new joint archive a record centre comes because the existing archive - below Old County Hall - is full to overflowing. Historical items are scattered around the UK and are not on display for the people of Cornwall and visitors as they should be. It makes sense to combine the archive with the Cornish Studies Library (currently based in Redruth) into a state of the art new facility.

More than 30 bids were received to host the new facility and three were shortlisted. Sadly, none of these was in the East. I therefore took the decision that, all other things being equal, I would want to see the St Austell bid win through as it is more accessible.

In fact the St Austell bid is also cheaper and comes at lower risk. The Redruth site needs extensive flood alleviation work before work can start and the Hayle site has the least option for future expansion.

Officers had recommended the Redruth site - and I feel sorry that they will see the moving of an excellent facility out of their town. But the majority of members (it was decided on by 11 votes to 1) decided that the ease of access and lower risk involved in the St Austell bid outweighed the potential regenerative effects of the Redruth bid.

The final decision will be taken by the Cabinet later this month.

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