Whistleblower says Southend museum services “slashed to the bone”

Museums in Southend have been “slashed to the bone” following a restructuring, a whistleblower fears.

An insider, who asked not to be named, has claimed an “already understaffed service” will no longer be able to carry out educational and community events because there will not be enough staff to man them.

The whistleblower claims a pool of 20 staff, once used to cover for those who were sick and to help out at events, have all been let go along with one full-time post.

Southend Council bosses insisted it is still in the process of recruiting and retraining staff and events will continue.

The whistleblower said: “We were running on a skeleton service and when people were sick we had to shut Southchurch Hall

“The restructuring means deleting 20 relief staff, who shored up our rota if there was an event on or if someone was sick.”

The service includes Central Museum and Beecroft Gallery in Victoria Avenue, which is only open on Sundays from 11am to 4pm, as well as Prittlewell Priory, Southchurch Hall and the Planetarium which have all been closed over the summer.

The whistleblower added: “It will have a negative impact on education services. There will be fewer interactions with schools.

“Thousands of children came to our learning sessions and the Meet the Tudors events in the summer, They’ve deleted that post and the public won’t be able to access the buildings for events because there will be no one to open them.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for culture, said: “Our museums are a fantastic part of our cultural offer and will remain so.

“We are still in the process of recruiting and retraining our staff following an extensive consultation period which has taken place to ensure museums offer a greater visitor experience and are open when people have told us they most want to visit, including Sundays for example.

“Once completed we will be continuing our engagement with schools and children and provide educational activities and workshops. This is a vital part of our service to the community and there is no intention to stop this.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter