Funding solution found to keep records office at Barnstaple Library open until March

Plans to secure the future of North Devon Records Office have received a boost, thanks to the collective effort of Devon County Council and Barnstaple Town Council.

Financial pressures meant the county council was questioning whether it could afford to maintain the records office in Barnstaple. New Government spending targets mean that a further £110million of savings are likely to be needed over the next four years with £35m of this in 2016/17.

But now, having recognised the strength of feeling locally, the county council has identified £12,500 of the £22,500 required run the records office until the end of the financial year in March, with the two county councillors for Barnstaple, Cllr Brian Greenslade and Cllr John Mathews, contributing £5,000 each from their locality budgets.

Barnstaple Town Council has led a campaign to raise the additional £10,000 through town and parish councils and other local groups in the North Devon and Torridge area.

The funding will ensure the records office remains open while a longer term plan is agreed by the county council and the South West Heritage Trust.

Proposals include a 'heritage outreach officer' based within the records office at Barnstaple Library to allow access three days a week.

Cllr Greenslade said: "The North Devon Records Office is a vital component of life in the north of the county and very many people in our community did not find favour with our records being taken off to Exeter.

"It was not just about this community being able to access our history; many people with North Devon connections came to Barnstaple to trace their family and community history.

"Like with the Knowstone service area on the link road, which was going to be closed, local engagement can often find an alternative which allows facilities to remain."