Museum is not treated fairly

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: Peter C. Booth, Sewell Avenue, Bexhill

As someone who has been a volunteer at the Bexhill Museum for close on 17 years, I would be interested in knowing why this asset to the town is so poorly treated by our council.

The De La Warr Pavilion carries on receiving £500,000 annually from Rother District Council’s tax payers – plus just over this sum from elsewhere.

Recently, the sailing club was handed £130,000 by the council. Paupers cannot afford boats nor can they afford club membership. The chances are that their members could have coughed up between them that amount without blinking.

This would be exactly like our museum volunteers have been doing over the years, in ever-increasing ways – but with just 1.6 per cent of the De La Warr council allocation, part of which they take back (not the decimal point).

We are described as ‘the second most popular attraction in Bexhill’ so find this funding difference puzzling. A few examples:

After our extension was completed, unpaid volunteers have bought the till (£925) and its extended warranty; they have replaced lights as needed; they have bought boards for pinning photographs and other exhibits on – besides supporting our other fundraising events, such as lectures, outings and walks.

Fairly recently, we were told LED lights would save us money. A letter was circulated asking us volunteers if we could find the Phase One part of this money (c. £5,000). When the sum stalled, one volunteer wrote a cheque so that our Phase One could go ahead. Yet we still get, year upon year, an end of term report from the council: ‘No more money – must try harder with cash-raising efforts’.

Now forced to try coffee morning and book sales, members are financially digging ever deeper, even buying odd items such as ring-bind folders and blue tack. Our coffee morning equipment is also volunteer funded.

Finally, about four years back, I went through our visitor comments book. Yes, we do get people from USA and Europe, Australia and beyond. And yes, from Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and East Anglia. But the majority of visitors are from Rye and around: Hastings and St Leonards, Bexhill, Cooden, Little Common, Battle, Ninfield and all stations to Eastbourne. This area ring a bell? It’s the area covered by Rother District Council.

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