Stoke ‘acted unethically’ over museum cuts

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been accused to acting unethically and causing “severe stress” with plans to cut staff and opening hours at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, familiar as the venue for Channel 4’s reality programme Great Pottery Throw Down.

Speaking to the Museums Journal Phil Rowley, an experienced volunteer at the museum, said staff were unable to speak out because they had been served with a gagging order which could not apply to him, but that they had been distressed after being served with redundancy notices. A dozen jobs are to go in the council’s plan saving £479,000 a year.

"I believe that the city council has acted unethically in several ways regarding the cuts” Rowley said “and I believe that this must be brought to the attention of the public."

The council has rowed back on earlier plans to cut 19 posts, including two specialist ceramics curators, and merge staff teams at Gladstone Pottery Museum and the Potteries Museum, closing the Gladstone during the winter months to pursue filming and venue hire opportunities, but the plans were heavily criticised by museum and heritage bodies, with the city's Heritage Network warning that they would have an "immediate, significant and long-lasting adverse impact" on museum provision and the city's wider cultural heritage offer. The future of the two curator posts is still to be decided.

The council "has treated all staff with complete contempt" Rowley said. "The whole thing is an absolute disgrace". He warned that the cuts at Gladstone would "put the future of the museum at extreme risk".

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