“Shambolic” change to hours

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PLANS to change Montrose Museum’s opening hours from the beginning of April were this week branded “utterly ridiculous” and “bizarre”.

From the start of the month the museum will open from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive and closed on Mondays, a move agreed by Angus councillors at February’s budget meeting to help cut costs and which also affects museum services in Arbroath, Forfar, Brechin and Kirriemuir.

Councillor Jeanette Gaul, neighbourhood services vice-convener, said that although other opening arrangements have been tried in the past, the new times will best meet the needs of visitors and that a pattern of five-day consecutive opening with no lunchtime closure “seems to be the best arrangement to meet the needs of visitors to the museums.”

The council will also continue to make arrangements to open in the evenings for groups or organisations on arranged tours.

But the idea has not found favour with everyone and one local woman, who asked not to be named, said the new arrangements are “shambolic”, particularly with the approach of the tourist season.

She said: “They seem to have forgotten that Montrose Museum is also a tourist information point and Monday is one of the busiest days of the week in terms of inquiries. All they’re doing is cutting the Saturday assistant who is part-time and provides weekend and holiday cover during the summer.

“They’ve just gone about it in an utterly bizarre way. Why do it at the beginning of April when there will be a reorganisation of services and every single service will be reviewed after that? They’re losing a sixth of the museum services for about £3,000 they won’t save at all with that reorganisation coming up. It’s not properly strategically thought-out and it’s just short termism which will probably cost more than they are saving.

“We were told that the tourist information point had to go in to the museum and now they’re talking about cutting it one day a week which will have a major detrimental effect.”

The tourist information point was moved to the museum in 2007 after VisitScotland pulled funding for all four of the county’s tourist offices in February that year, claiming that they did not represent value for money.

This week, however, a council spokeswoman said that there are alternative tourist information arrangements with Montrose Library and there is “no evidence” to back up claims that Monday is the busiest day for inquiries.

She did, however, confirm that the change will affect temporary staff.

She said: “Montrose Museum provides tourist information throughout the week, but the day closure as part of our budget savings, meant that we had to close one day a week. We had no evidence to suggest that Monday was any busier than any other day.

“Montrose Library also provides local tourist information and the People’s Network is available there for anyone making tourist enquiries on the internet.

“There will be no redundancies in the museums, but some staff on temporary contracts will not have their contracts renewed.”