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newportguildhallA new way of working under which the council and various groups will join forces to protect, preserve and display the Island’s heritage has now been agreed.

A new framework report was the subject of a delegated decision taken this week (Tuesday 19 March) by Councillor Dave Stewart, cabinet member with responsibility for heritage. Provision in the framework to protect the Island’s public records has received the backing of The National Archives in London.

The report recommends that the Island’s heritage organisations work together towards agreed shared goals, to create an Isle of Wight Heritage Strategy. As a result the council, by working closely with voluntary organisations on the Island, will develop an innovative heritage offer for residents and visitors.

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The agreed strategic framework also aims to make the Island’s heritage collections more accessible, so that more people can see, understand, enjoy and learn from more exhibits. A key element of this being the use of the Guildhall at Newport as a focal point for the Island’s public records and wider heritage approach.

“We welcome the council’s commitment”

In a letter sent to the authority following a meeting between the council and The National Archives last week, The National Archives highlighted the council’s plans to preserve the Island’s historical records and artefacts. The letter said: “We welcome the council’s commitment to retaining the public records on the Island…your presentation of the current position reassured us that there is a determination to progress towards a solution for the Island’s unique written heritage.

“The Guildhall site under consideration offers some significant advantages in terms of raising the profile and increasing audiences, as well as having the potential to provide appropriate facilities for the preservation of the Island’s records. Although there are challenges with a restricted site and a partially-listed building we felt that your team have identified these and will aim for appropriately managed responses.”

In achieving this endorsement Councillor Stewart, said: “This positive response from The National Archives marks another milestone in an ongoing drive and commitment to deliver on the Island Heritage Strategy which I have now formally agreed through delegated decision. We will continue to consult and work with external partners to make sure that the strategy meets the needs of local groups and best protects the Island’s historic environments, objects and documents for the benefit of future generations.”

Working together for the Island’s heritage

The key principles that underpin the new framework include finding practical ways in which partners can work together and the Island’s heritage can be interpreted more widely, to allow more people to enjoy more exhibits, stories and experiences. It will also involve partners continuing to work closely to explore opportunities for funding bids, income generation and cost reductions through joint working.

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The new approach would seek to secure the best use of everyone’s combined resources to promote the heritage sector and develop new ideas and projects to celebrate the Island’s history still further.

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