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Bradford art treasure sale plan is 'vandalism'
Bradford West MP George Galloway has condemned a proposal by Bradford’s Liberal Democrats and Conservatives that the city should sell off all or part of its arts treasures to fund slashed frontline services.
The suggestion has proved a huge talking point over the past week, with art greats such as Bradford-born David Hockney even getting involved in the debate.
Mr Galloway said the idea amounted to Coalition vandalism.
He said: “This Coalition Government is responsible for the cuts nationally and the cuts to the Council budget and now the two of them have the gall to pipe up that we should fund their vandalism and philistinism by selling off works which were gifted to this city.”
The Respect MP added the Council had a massive reserve fund to draw on, rather than selling the ‘civic silver’.
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, Bradford’s Liberal Democrat leader, previously said a lot of the Council’s artworks were left sitting in storage and that by selling some of them, the authority could avoid having to cut funding to its youth services or closing children’s centres.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, had echoed her remarks.
But the suggestion met with dismay from artists and was ruled out by the Labour-led administration.
Bradford Council’s museum and gallery collection is now thought to be valued at £90 million, the authority has said.
Last week, it was revealed that the Council had upped its insurance cover after a fraction of its fine art was valued by auctioneers and found to be worth millions more than previously thought.
The authority has now insured its collection for £39 million, almost double the previous amount of £20 million.
The Council has now said that this insurance only covers high value pieces, and that the value of thousands of lower value items covered instead by the authority’s general insurance policies were worth an estimated £50 million.
A Council expert also said that according to the auctioneers, the value of some items had fallen rather than risen.
Maggie Pedley, Bradford Council’s museum and galleries manager, said: “The art market in particular is one that fluctuates quite widely and the purpose of the report to the Governance and Audit Committee was to make sure that our level of insurance is kept up to the value of the collection.
“At the valuation last year it should be noted that some items had decreased in value as well as some having increased.”
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