The Courier

“Easy target” Angus museums to be hit by opening hours reduction

Arbroath's Signal Tower Museum

Angus museum opening hours are to be slashed for the winter season in a shake-up of culture and leisure facility opening hours across the district.

From November to March, museums run by the Angus Alive arms-length trust of the local authority will only open three days a week – a move branded “disappointing but not unexpected” amidst a claim staff morale in the organisation has plummeted.

© DC Thomson
The award-winning Kirriemuir Gateway to the Glens museum has provided the backdrop for events including spooky tours of the town

Under the changes, the area’s seven sports centres will close in uniformity at 9.30pm – a reduction of opening hours at four of them.

Angus Alive say the changes follow a detailed examination of operations throughout the region and analysis of customer numbers to “provide a more tailored service for customers.”

The body hsaid cost reduction is one of the drivers behind the move, but could not put a figure on what the savings will be – or the direct implications for affected staff.

An Angus Alive spokesperson said: “The opening hours of the five museums the charity operates will change during 2019 to reflect seasonal trends.

“The attractions will open 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday from April to October and 10am to 4pm Thursday to Saturday from November to March.

The hours at Angus Archives, near Forfar  – currently 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday – will change to 10am to 4pm Thursday to Saturday.

From November 1 all Angus sports centres will close at 9.30pm. Arbroath’s Saltire currently opens until 10.30pm, with Arbroath, Montrose and Carnoustie sports centre presently closing at 10pm.

Webster Memorial Theatre box office hours are being extended and all local libraries will have the same opening hours, removing half day closures and providing an additional weekday late night on Thursdays, with Saturday opening from 10am to 2pm.

Trust chief executive Kirsty Hunter said: “Angus Alive is a forward-thinking and customer-focused organisation.

“We have aligned these changes in accordance with customer demand and business needs help achieve savings over a three-year budget period and to help to drive future growth.

“As a not-for-profit business, we will continue to monitor operational hours and other business processes to ensure efficient delivery of the services that our customers value.”

Kirriemuir historian David Orr said he feared the knock-on effect for local communities of the museum cuts.

“If you look at them I suppose they are an easy target, and although it is maybe not unexpected that doesn’t make it any less disappointing,” he said.

“It is not good news and for me a concern is the knock-on effects from places like Kirrie if you reduce the hours and give tourists less reason to visit.

“The council has already washed its hands of places like the Camera Obscura, which is now being run by volunteers, so this is not going to help.

“And if they can’t measure the financial saving of reducing the hours, how are they going to measure the knock on cost?”

A source within the trust said staff had been unsettled by the recent organisational review.

“Instead of trying to cause minimum disruption, many staff are being moved and put on significantly different shift patterns,” said the insider.

“We were invited to one-to-one meetings in June and asked our preferences about location, hours and availability.

“Clearly this was done to pay lip service to another part of the consultation process.

“Staff morale really is at an all-time low. “

In response, Angus Alive said: “There have been regular updates and meetings with staff and we would ask staff members to raise any concerns they have.”