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Curator at Baildon countryside centre made redundant
Wildlife enthusiasts have raised fears over the future of Bracken Hall Countryside Centre after its resident curator was made redundant.
Bradford Council has insisted the move is not a result of budget cuts and the centre’s opening hours will remain the same.
BUWG’s secretary Susan Stead said rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals at Bracken Hall had been moved elsewhere and its popular Wild Wednesday activity days for children were being held during the summer holidays.
She said: “There won’t be as many activities held there. There’s nothing to bring the children in over the summer. It’s going to stay as a museum but there will be no full time officer who is qualified to see to take people out and show them the wildlife. We are not happy about the way it’s going.”
A notice on the organisation’s website states: “The Council says it is committed to increasing educational use of the centre but has not provided any reassurance on how this would happen.
“The skeleton staffing proposed is certainly not adequate for this purpose. The local expertise of a resident curator has been discarded. The animals have had to be moved out, undermining the purpose of the centre.
“The purpose of the changes is to save money. The reduced security of the building and grounds now no one is living there is likely to mean no cost saving is achieved. If there is a loss of income from visiting groups then we fear for the centre’s future.”
Maggie Pedley, Bradford Council's museums and galleries manager, said the authority was looking to recruit part-time museum assistants to improve visitor services at Bracken Hall, which has displays relating to the natural history, geology, archaeology and local history of the surrounding area as well as interactive wildlife exhibits.
She said: “No changes are being proposed in the short term to the operation or the opening hours of the centre. Our Natural Science Curator opens an exhibition later this month, Moor Views II at Bracken Hall. It continues to be a very lively museum.
“A review of the museum has taken place in 2011-12 and we have looked at how many schools and other community organisations access what it has to offer.
“We want to ensure that it is sustainable and more importantly to increase the number of schools using our museums.
“It is our view that numbers need to increase at Bracken Hall Countryside centre, and we are working hard to achieve this.”