Sheffield City Council has defended the possible closure of the Graves Art Gallery, days after saying they would not close any of Sheffield’s museums.
Last week a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “Liberal Democrat councillors have confirmed that as well as a council tax freeze, their proposals will include: no closure of museums or theatres.”
But yesterday a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “I think it is a fair point to say that closure is one option that is being considered.
“Graves Art Gallery is not a Museum; if it was then it would be called Graves Museum. But it’s not. It’s called Graves Art Gallery.”
Museums Sheffield, who are responsible for the gallery, face a £328,000 cut to their annual £2.3million pound budget.
Local stars including singer Richard Hawley have already voiced their opposition to any cultural cuts, which come as details of Sheffield’s £84million cuts were announced in the city council’s proposed budget.
Liberal Democrat Leader of Sheffield City Council, Paul Scriven, said: “Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust who run Graves Art Gallery will have to make savings like everyone else to deal with the toxic debt the country has been left with.
“However, I have made it very clear to the chair of the Trust that my administration will not support the closure of Graves Gallery as part of the reductions in finance.
“I have asked the Council to work with the Trust to deal with the issues they are facing. But if the Board of Directors go ahead with this, then they are doing so against the wishes of me and the local Liberal Democrats.”
Chair of Museums Sheffield, Sandra Newton said the funding cut would be “almost impossible” to absorb without reducing services.
Museums Sheffield was set up in 1998 to manage Weston Park Museum, the Millennium Galleries, Graves Art Gallery and Bishops’ House on behalf of the council.
The organisation has been plagued with financial problems since it ran into debt after the Weston Park Museum restoration in 2008.
Last year Museums Sheffield was bailed out of a £172,000 funding cut by the city council after the council agreed to step in and plug the funding difference.
Elsewhere in the proposed budget, 25 of 40 Police Community Support Officers will have funding removed.
Market traders will face higher rent costs to their stalls and on street car parking fees will be increased.
Labour Council Group Deputy Leader, Cllr Bryan Lodge said: “These vicious Con-Dem council cuts will see pavements unswept and street lights turned off, while leisure centres, libraries and youth clubs will close.”
However Lib Dems say they will not close local libraries, leisure centres or swimming pools.
Cllr Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat Cabinet member for Finance, said: “Instead of simply accepting library or leisure centre closures in a few areas, we are looking at slight reductions in opening hours. Instead of ending services completely, we are looking to see how we can better target them.
“We have also ruled certain things out, such as moving to a fortnightly bin collection or going to ‘critical needs only’ for adult social care.”
There will be 270 council job losses incorporated into the proposed budget.
A full meeting of the Sheffield City Council, on March 4, will vote on whether to impose the proposed budget cuts.