Grantham Museum responds to former councillor’s criticism
Grantham Museum has responded to a former councillor who told a full meeting of the district council yesterday he believed the running of the charity was ‘politicised’.
Mike Taylor, a former Conservative councillor on South Kesteven District Council and now a member of UKIP, was speaking during the public open forum. He questioned whether the charity running the museum was breaking rules by sub-letting office space to Grantham Conservative MP Nick Boles and allowing the museum to be used as a meeting place for the Grantham West Conservative branch and occasional public meetings held by Mr Boles.
Grantham Museum chairman Adam Stokes said: “Mr Taylor is quoted as saying of Grantham Museum ‘clearly treating council rules appertaining to the lease of council premises with complete disdain.’
“This is entirely untrue and without foundation. The lease, which Mr Taylor signed and oversaw as portfolio holder for SKDC prior to losing his seat in May’s election, allows GCHA (Grantham Community Heritage Association) to sub-let space in the museum with the landlord’s consent. This consent has been sought and granted for all the various operations undertaken at the museum.
“Grantham Museum receives no taxpayer funding and is entirely reliant on donations, grants and the rent it receives from office and space bookings. Having previously rented space from SKDC, Nick Boles MP (along with three other small businesses) rents an office and space in the museum for various events and functions. These charges were set at market rates advised by SKDC. No discount was requested, offered or given.
“The larger meeting room is available to rent on an hourly basis and is used for a variety of purposes including meetings of local societies, public meetings, children’s parties, and MP events that are open to the public, which are all charged at market rate. We’d be keen to host any other political organisation’s event and would ask them to get in touch to should they be interested.
“All income generated from the office and room rental is used to put on new exhibitions, and pay the bills for the museum; which costs in excess of £2,500 per month to run. We are very grateful to Nick Boles MP and the other tenants for their support in helping to keep the doors open.
“The museum is run by GCHA (Grantham Community Heritage Association) as an educational charity and is regulated by the Charities Commission accordingly.
“As a voluntary organisation we rely on assistance from across the political spectrum and we enjoy support from all political hues and would extend an offer to Mr Taylor to volunteer, as a number of his former colleagues do, and help build on the success of the museum.”
At the meeting of the full council Coun Adams said that GCHA’s actions were “all above aboard and as transparent as could be.”
Mr Taylor said he would be contacting the Charity Commission with his views.