HEREFORDSHIRE Council has been praised for dropping proposals to cut £250,000 from its museum and archives services in next year’s budget.

The council’s savings target formed part of its medium term financial strategy for the 2020/21 financial year.

But the new administration plans to remove the proposed cuts and says the museums and archives service is essential to preserving the county’s cultural heritage.

“It has a key role to play in enhancing the quality of life for residents, supporting the visitor economy and being an essential part of our health and social care agenda,” council leader David Hitchiner said in his report to the general scrutiny committee.

“We will work with stakeholders to look at how we can take forward the current service and develop a sustainable model for the future, learning from best practice across the country.

“The removal of the museum and archives savings requirement will enable a positive approach to be taken to exploring the future development of the service and avoid further reductions.

“Consulting with key stakeholders, staff, user groups and the public will be essential as part of this process.”

The council says it will instead find the £250,000 saving through efficiencies within the public realm contract.

Jane Adams, of Friends of Herefordshire Archives chairman, said: “I commend the administration for their proposal to withdraw any further savings target for the museum and archives services in the 2019/20 budget and the recognition that this is an essential first step in designing and delivering a sustainable model for delivery.”

Ms Adams asked if the council would consider positive options to enhance the services would start before the end the current financial year.

“Thank you for your question and your support of the museums service,” a council spokesman replied.

“Council intends to engage with staff and stakeholders as early as possible in commencing an inclusive and informed evaluation of how we might sustain and enhance the delivery of a high quality museum, libraries and archives service into the future.

“The budget will be finalised in February therefore a cultural services summit shall be convened in March.

“This will bring together a cross section of sectors as cultural services is a fundamental thread to many aspects of the council including health and wellbeing and tourism.”