WILL OUR MUSEUM EVER OPEN?
18 months on from a public meeting, at which promises were made by District Councillors, that the eagerly anticipated, long overdue newly constructed North Hertfordshire Museum would soon be open there is still no sign of it opening and one has to wonder, will it ever open?
An on line petition signed by over 520 people back in March calling for an Independent Public Enquiry into the entire long running fiasco was presented to the former MP, Mr. Peter Lilley. A General Election subsequently interrupted the process, Mr. Lilley stepped down and members of the social media pressure group The Future Of Hitchin Town Hall & Museum met with the newly elected MP, Mr. Bim Afolami.
Earlier this year I gave a presentation to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee of NHDC. My questions included - how much is the project likely to cost as we still do not know the true cost of the original projected overspend to the taxpayer.
The most complex aspect of this whole story has been the issue of the Museum entrance, located on 14/15 Brand Street. The parties involved in supposedly resolving this matter, Hitchin Town Hall Ltd, HTH Finance Ltd and NHDC have reportedly made good progress in respect of this. But it still remains to be seen whether or not the doors will be finally open to the public at long last.
The North Hertfordshire Museum staff, working under incredibly difficult circumstances, deserve so much credit for enabling the new Museum to all come together. It is a beautiful work of art with fantastic artefacts on display.
It has been estimated, however, that the true cost of the project, originally set at £2.34 M is possibly now as high as £7 M. Following the meeting with Mr. Bim Afolami MP I gave a presentation to the Cabinet of NHDC.
The prime issue is to get the new District Museum open so that the public are able to enjoy this beautiful work of art. But from there it is only right that a full enquiry takes place, to establish how on earth such a colossal overspend occurred with costs still rising daily.
This after all is public money at stake.