14 August 2017

The Financial Dimension of Running A Local Heritage and Information Centre

The New Mills Heritage and Information Centre (NMHIC) has a new up-to-date financial statement. This was presented to town councillors at a recent meeting.  HPT obtained a copy under the Freedom of Information Act.

NMHIC's accounting year ends on 31 March every year.   The new financial statement analyses the Centre's Income and Expenditure for the last three financial years.  All persons interested in public life and finances in New Mills should read this statement.

The figures in the statement are very clear, well analysed and well-laid out.

The aggregate net loss to council taxpayers for the three-year period ending on 31 March 2017 is £41,932.

This is made up of the following yearly losses:

2014-15:  £13,276

2015-16:  £12,431

2016-17:  £16,225

Several points arise from these financial statements, Esteemed HPT readers will no doubt add to these points:

1.  The New Mills Heritage and Information Centre cannot be justified on self-contained financial grounds.

It is up to the town council as a public body to decide every year whether the Centre's promotion of New Mills and publicity etc for the town and its local history justifies the annual financial costs to the public of running it.

2.  A lot of local people put in volunteer hours in the NMHIC shop and elsewhere to keep the Centre going.

Current NMTC chair Barry Bate in particular has put in a lot of unpaid, unacknowledged,  valuable work on the admin and funding side.  There are many others who commit their time and expertise.

3.  When the former town clerk was relieved of her duties a few years ago, her friends and allies on the council  and elsewhere vilified good councillors who had flagged up that the NMHIC was making significant financial losses.  This vilification was a part of the campaign to keep that town clerk in post.

These detailed financial statements now provide the documentary proof that on this subject the good councillors were right and their opponents were wrong.

4.  Former councillor David Lamb in particular is owed an apology.  His detailed investigations into this subject and others were a highly valuable public service.

It is shameful that Mr Lamb's extensive good work on behalf of the public of New Mills when he was a councillor resulted in his enemies failing to then co-opt him onto the town council.


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