Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

West and East Suffolk districts set to lose Bury St Edmunds archives despite SuffolkNews campaign





West and East Suffolk districts are set to lose their local archives branches despite campaigners' efforts.

The decision to close the records office in Bury St Edmunds and move it alongside Lowestoft's office to The Hold, in Ipswich, was made during this afternoon's Suffolk County Council budget discussions.

This is despite a campaign led by the The Bury Free Press (SuffolkNews), Bury Society and Bury St Edmunds Town Trust to keep the offices from shutting down which garnered more than 2,500 signatures from residents.

From left, Terry O’Donoghue, vice-chair and secretary of the Bury Society; John Popham, trustee of the Bury Town Trust; Martyn Taylor, chair of the Bury Society; Richard Summers, retired co-ordinator of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership and Paul Derrick, head of news at the Bury Free Press. Picture: Mark Westley
From left, Terry O’Donoghue, vice-chair and secretary of the Bury Society; John Popham, trustee of the Bury Town Trust; Martyn Taylor, chair of the Bury Society; Richard Summers, retired co-ordinator of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership and Paul Derrick, head of news at the Bury Free Press. Picture: Mark Westley

However, SCC said it couldn't afford the £5m necessary to protect West Suffolk's office, where historic records have been kept for centuries, with the closures expected to save about £140,000 a year as part of the council's £64.7m savings package.

During the meeting, several worries were raised that closing the branches was akin to stripping West Suffolk of its heritage.

Cllr Andrew Stringer, who leads the opposing GLI group, said: “It’s what we lose that’s going to affect the people of Suffolk the most — it’s about local identity and respect.

"We owe it to the people of Suffolk to at least pause this move and allow meaningful talks to take place.”

Campaigners fighting to keep the records office in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Campaigners fighting to keep the records office in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Eve Burrows Bury Society member, Martyn Taylor, chair Bury Society, John Popham, Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, with copies of the petition. Picture: Mark Westley
Eve Burrows Bury Society member, Martyn Taylor, chair Bury Society, John Popham, Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, with copies of the petition. Picture: Mark Westley

Although the decision to close down the Lowestoft branch was made six years ago, county leaders said they had been left with no choice but to also close the Bury branch, in Raingate Street, after West Suffolk Council (WSC) decided to scrap the Western Way project, where the records would have been moved to.

Cllr Viktor Lukaniuk, West Suffolk Council's deputy leader, said: "To move the West Suffolk archives to Ipswich is truly bizarre, it functions perfectly well where it is.

”As for the cancelled Western Way project, it was an expenditure the people of West Suffolk could not afford.”

This afternoon's decision means that all statutory documents, such as marriage certificates, will be transferred to the Hold while a working party will be set up, the council promised, to try and find another solution for non-statutory records.