Williamson Art Gallery petition signed by thousands opposing its closure
Thousands of people have signed an online petition to secure the future of the threatened Williamson Art Gallery and Museum.
Wirral Council is looking at ways it can save around £16.5m to close the gap in its budget which is says has largely been created by its response to and ongoing measures needed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. These have added unexpected additional costs to the current budget while council bosses say many of the borough’s regular sources of income have not been available.
One option it is now consulting on is a plan for a ‘full review’ of the museums service which oversees both the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Slatey Road and the historic Birkenhead Priory.
Closing the service would save £327,000, although mothballing the Williamson and safeguarding its collections would still incur a cost of around £50,000.
But a campaign has now been set up online to oppose the move which would see the Williamson close its doors after 92 years. And the petition has now received more than 7,750 signatures.
Corinne Whitham, who started the petition, explains online: “The Williamson has been a part of the Wirral community for 92 years, where it has been much more than just a place for people of all ages to see beautiful art, it has served as a true hub of the community. It has welcomed people of all ages, of all walks of life and backgrounds throughout its time, and its closure will leave many people's lives much emptier and lonelier.
“As well as its historically important permanent collection of wonderful art and artifacts, including a collection of ship models connected to Merseyside’s shipping history, it frequently hosts exciting and accessible guest exhibitions of contemporary artists.
“Its regular workshops for children, families, and adults have been a great favourite for many people across the Wirral community. Its programme of musical performances has been an important platform for classical and contemporary musicians from the North West.
“To close the Williamson would deprive many people on the Wirral of access to the arts on the Wirral. It was purpose built to do just that, and the council has offered no alternative.”
Other budget savings being considered include the maintenance of parks and roadside verges (£250,000), axing the school crossing patrol service (£276,3000), closing all Wirral Council’s public loos (£142,000), closing Europa Pools at Birkenhead (£640,000) and axing the council’s culture and visitor service events budget (£620,000).
There is also an option to increase parking charges and introduce new charges which could raise £100,000.
Residents are being asked for their feedback about all the proposed savings.