This mostly concerns all those of you in that part of Banburyshire that is actually in Northamptonshire, but it should concern all local historians everywhere as, where one county record office leads, others may follow. We have been informed that from August 21st, the Northampton Record Office is proposing to make drastic cuts in their opening times, and to charge a fee of £31.50 per hour to view original documents outside those hours. There will only be free access to the archives on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm, and the first Saturday of each month from 9 am to 1 pm.
It will no longer be possible to spend a whole day at the Record Office (see details below) and even a shortened (9am – 3pm) day’s work will cost over £60. Almost all that has ever appeared in Northamptonshire Past & Present (or in other journals about Northants) has been written from free access to the county’s archives, and this is going to make it much more difficult for local and family historians to produce this kind of work.
As far as we know, Northamptonshire is the only council in the country to impose such charges, and they have done so because the Archives Services budget has been reduced from £500,000 to £400,000.
Please sign the petition, and please forward this to any other local historians you know, and history societies, to maximise the number of signatures: https://www.change.org/p/northamptonshire-county-council-northamptonshire-county-council-don-t-charge-for-visiting-archives
If you live in the county, please also write or email to the NCC Councillor responsible, Andre Gonzalez de Savage (Cllr Gonzalez de Savage, NCC, County Hall, Northampton, NN1 1AT; firstname.lastname@example.org.); and it might help to copy your letter or email to your own local county councillor (they can be found on the NCC website).
You should point out that documents and records have been deposited at the Record office over the years by individuals, bodies and institutions in the belief that they would be freely available to members of the public. There is also a statutory duty to provide access to public documents.
Cllr Gonzalez de Savage is the Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure, Economic Growth and Public Protection and one suspects that the archives are not high on his list of priorities. However NCC is keen to advertise the county’s rich heritage and he needs to be reminded that the archives are an important part of this.
(Full details of proposed changes: Outside these hours a fee of £31.50 per hour will be charged and appointments can be booked to view original documents during the following times:
Monday & Friday: 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm ;Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: 2pm – 4pm
Personal consultations can also be booked, for an hourly fee, Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm)
With best wishes