Proposals to develop an improved facility for the storage and presentation of records held by the Isle of Wight Record Office are to be considered by a meeting of the council’s Executive next Tuesday (9th December).
The Executive is being asked to support the concept of creating a new store for the Island’s records through an extension to the council’s Seaclose offices in Newport.
The recommendation also includes seeking advisory services on a no win no fee basis to identify possible sources of external capital funding for the new record office – as the council has no available funds.
The proposals would ensure that the Island’s public records which comprise about 15% of the council’s archive holdings are able to continue to be stored on the Island. The council’s archive holdings which are currently stored at the County Record Office, Hillside, Newport include a range of its own records, private collections and the public records.
The report to the Executive explains the council’s obligations to hold public records as a registered place of deposit on behalf of the National Archive.
The National Archive is the government agency responsible for granting licences for approved premises for archive storage. The council’s licence expired in 2003 – and since then it has been working with the National Archive to improve the quality of accommodation in which the archives are held.
The council has considered a number of options for relocating the record office, with Newport considered the best option because of its central location and good transport links.
A range of interested parties and organisations have been involved in the development of the proposal, including the National Archive.
It has been estimated the recommended option of an extension to the Seaclose offices, together with the appropriate storage and research facilities, may cost between £5.2 million and £6.3 million. The current record office is used by around 3,000 researchers each year.
Executive member for economy and tourism, Councillor Shirley Smart, said:
“This report takes forward the considerable work that has been undertaken over recent years in planning for the future options for the Isle of Wight Record Office – including discussions with key stakeholders.
“It is important to realise, however, that although a recommended option at Seaclose has been put forward, the issue of securing the necessary funding from external sources is still to be resolved.”