Northampton Labour ‘Call-In’ Statue Decision

Northampton Labour Group

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(For Immediate Release)

Labour ‘Call-In’ Statue Decision

At the NBC Cabinet last night the Tory Administration decided to go ahead and sell the Sekhemka statue, despite strong opposition from local heritage groups.

The Labour Group firmly believes that the Tories rushed this decision and didn’t carefully consider all possible alternatives. Nor have the Tories properly consulted with heritage/museum groups and the general public. For this reason Labour Group Leader, Cllr Terry Wire DL, decided to ‘call-in’ the decision to sell the statue to give these groups the chance to finally have their say.  The Overview and Scrutiny Committee will now consider the decision further at a date yet to be set.

The reasons that Labour has done a ‘call-in’ on the sale are below,

1. The sale of the Sekhemka statue has been hurried through without careful consideration to other possible alternatives and financial implications.

2. The Cabinet report says the proceeds of sale of the statue would be ‘entirely reinvested in the town’s cultural and heritage priorities, including the restoration of Delapre Abbey’.  Much more clarification needs to be given, as this statement is very vague.

3. There needs to be more consideration whether this sale is in breach of NBC’s own museums policy (Acquisitions and Disposal Policy, 2010).  When Cabinet made this decision on Wednesday 12th September the relevant sections of the Acquisition and Disposal Policy was not presented to members to help inform their decision. Therefore Cabinet may have made this decision with lack of sufficient evidence.

4. In addition, does Northampton Borough Council have legal documentation as to whether it actually owns this statue? The statue has been historically gifted and the report does not say whether any conditions of ownership were put in place. This should be investigated.

5. The Cabinet report says consultation is underway. The sale of the statue should only be considered once consultation has been completed. More consultation needs to be carried out with various stakeholders such as Friends of Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, tourist/heritage groups and local users of the Museums.

Cllr Terry Wire DL, Leader of the Labour Group, says

“It is paramount that people and local heritage groups have their say on the selling of the statue and that’s why we have done a ‘call-in’. This decision to sell the Sekhemka statue has been highly controversial. Regrettably there are many decisions now being taken by the Tories that the general public are simply unaware off.

I hope in future that Cllr Mackintosh is more open and transparent and urge him to consult properly in future.”