Science Museum Group closure threat leads to inquiry

National Media Museum, Bradford
Image caption The National Media Museum is one of three in the north of England run by the Science Museum Group (SMG) under threat of closure

A parliamentary inquiry is to be held into the future of museums run by Science Museums Group (SMG) after fears one may close due to budget cuts.

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, Bradford's National Media Museum and the National Railway Museum in York could close, according to SMG.

The group has warned of its "weak" financial position.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry was prompted by MPs.

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Labour), Manchester Withington MP John Leech (Liberal Democrat) and Shipley MP Philip Davies (Conservative) are all members of the select committee.

Mr Sutcliffe said the media museum was "crucial" to Bradford and he hoped to use the inquiry to block any plans to close the museum, which opened in 1983.

Mr Leech said: "Securing this inquiry will allow us to get to the bottom of funding issues and the priorities of the London-based Science Museum Group."

'Little choice'

The inquiry could be held before Parliament's summer recess in July, the MPs said. It would look into the future of the group and its funding.

SMG runs the Science Museum in London as well as the threatened museums.

SMG's financial review for 2011-12 showed about 62% of its income was provided by funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and 21% from commercial activities. Other income included grants, legacies and donations.

SMG director Ian Blatchford has previously said the prospect of a further 10% cut in funding in the next round of government spending proposals meant there would be "little choice other than to close one of our museums".

The news comes as politicians and campaigners hold a public meeting on the National Media Museum's future at Bradford's City Hall on Tuesday evening.

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