Museums service faces shake-up

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MUSEUMS in Sunderland could be set for a shake-up as the way they operate comes under scrutiny.

In a bid to gain more control over the running of museums on Wearside, council bosses are proposing to withdraw from the regional governing body.

Exhibitions across the North East are run by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) and have been since 1986.

But Sunderland has issued a 12-month notice of withdrawal so it can take the “opportunity to influence and tailor services”.

The council says it potentially could continue to work with the regional group but only through a renegotiated agreement.

This could result in a new Museum Service being established by Sunderland City Council and current staff being transferred across to the new body.

Councillor John Kelly, cabinet portfolio holder for safer city and culture, said: “We will be renegotiating what is currently provided and how we can continue to work together to provide the best for residents and visitors to Sunderland.

“We are looking at working with TWAM to deliver more tailoring of our museums to continue to meet customer expectations and aspirations and enhancing services, not compromising them.

“The services provided will ensure museum services are safeguarded and designed to ensure they are accessible to all.”

A spokesman for Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums said: “A review of the service is planned for 2012-13 and as part of this Sunderland City Council want to make some changes to service delivery in Sunderland.

“In order to do this, within the terms of the joint agreement between the five authorities, they have formally given notice of their intent to withdraw from the present joint agreement at April 1, 2013.

“TWAM and Sunderland City Council are confident that a new agreement will be delivered to ensure the continued provision beyond 2013 of high quality museums and archive services for the people of Sunderland as part of a partnership across Tyne and Wear.”

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