Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Volunteers may replace Hampshire museum staff over cuts

Bursledon Windmill
Image caption One of the museum's that could lose all paid staff is Hampshire's last remaining working windmill

Four of Hampshire's museums could lose all their paid staff and rely solely on volunteers under plans to save money.

Hampshire County Council said having volunteers running the four museums in Bursledon, Fordingbridge and two in Alton, would allow them to remain open.

Anticipated government cuts for museums led the council to seek savings of £1m.

It is part of wider plans to cut 29 out of 116 paid posts from across many of Hampshire's council-run museums. Unison has criticised the move.

The museums that could be left with no paid staff from April 2011 are Bursledon Windmill, near Eastleigh, Rockbourne Roman Villa, Fordingbridge, and the Allen Gallery and Curtis Museum, both in Alton.

'Local enthusiasm'

The county's museums service, overseen by the Conservative-controlled council, already has between 140 and 200 volunteers providing support services at various heritage sites.

Dr Janet Owen, head of Hampshire Museums, Arts and South East Hub, said: "Volunteers bring a local enthusiasm, energy and passion for their heritage.

"We want to continue the learning, marketing and exhibition work that has enabled us to expand our audiences."

However staff have raised concerns that health and safety could be compromised if no professional members of staff are on sites open to the public.

Peter Kelly, from Unison, said: "Volunteers, even with every good intention can't provide a consistent and reliable public service.

"They are only accountable to themselves."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites