Edition number 11; 29 February 2008

The museums policy that may now dare speak its name
Disposal is no longer a tainted word in the world of museums. Following a change to the Museums Association’s code of ethics and the publication this week of the Disposal Toolkit, museums may now consider “financially motivated disposal” without risking their membership of the association. The new code emphasises that there must be exceptional circumstances but the move from a strong presumption of retention to a strong presumption for retention within the public domain is a significant move from the previous stance. Amendments to the code of ethics were debated at the MA’s annual general meeting in Glasgow earlier this year and the publication of the Disposal Toolkit follows two examples of disposal – Bury Museum’s sale of a Lowry and the Watt Gallery’s sale of two works worth £1.4m – which hit the headlines [See TLR’s World of Leisure, February 08]. MA director, Mark Taylor, stressed that the former case, which used the funds from the disposal to offset a budget shortfall, “would still be out of order”, while the latter, which will use the funds to safeguard the remaining collection, is now acceptable as a reluctant last resort. While the new code emphasises that disposals that are primarily financially motivated, based on ad hoc decisions or remove items from the public domain are still unacceptable, the issue has been hotly debated within the museums sector and some remain uncomfortable with the prospect of a new source of danger for museum collections and the funding of their maintenance.
• The Disposal Toolkit and the Disposal Digest, along with a film outlining the debate surrounding the decision, are available to download from the Museum Association’s website at www.museumsassociation.org

A new look but no stadium for Lord’s
Some of the world’s most celebrated architectural practices received their copy of the preliminary brief for the Lord’s ‘masterplan’ this week. The project, which involves a full-scale overhaul of cricket’s most famous ground, is likely to take ten years and cost some £200m. The plan was drawn up following consultation of the MCC’s 22,000 full and associate members by post and six meetings to discuss various aspects of the scheme. The aim, according to David Batts, the MCC’s masterplan project director, is to increase capacity, improve access and provide better facilities for spectators. Significant emphasis has been placed upon “the Lord’s experience” and the retention of the ground’s unique atmosphere. Mindful of the redevelopment of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Batts stressed, “We don’t want to create a stadium.” Five stands around the main playing arena are up for replacement and the plan includes provision of retractable floodlights, a hotel and a residential development. While the pavilion is sacrosanct, the indoor school is to be redeveloped to create “an international cricket laboratory”, part of a “world-class facility that reflects Lord’s place as the ‘think tank’ as well as the home for cricket”.

London’s new public transport vehicles: shoes and bikes
Ken Livingstone’s statement regarding “the most ambitious programme to transform walking and cycling in London’s history” was saved from hyperbole by the details behind the announcement. Key aspects of the plan include a bike hire scheme modelled on the successful experiment in Paris, commuter cycle routes across inner and outer London, ‘bike zones’ to promote cycle use and £500m to be spent over the next ten years. “As well as making our city a safer and more enjoyable place to cycle, we will build upon London’s leading position as the only major world city to have achieved a switch from private car use to public transport, cycling and walking,” said Mayor Ken. He pointed out that more that 50% of Tube journeys in central London would be quicker on foot and that a new ‘Legible London’ signage system will help people get around on foot more easily. With 40% of Londoners having access to a bike, the aim is to have 10% of them making a round trip by bicycle every day. A couple of weeks on from the announcement, there is increasing anecdotal evidence of the scheme’s popularity. As one London resident revealed to The Leisure Review, “It’s a great scheme. My house is on one of the cycle superhighways and it’s put ten grand on the price.”


News in brief condensed yet further

Roko Health Clubs have opened their fifth site in Chiswick, London with Life Fitness and Escape Fitness as their equipment suppliers. Vera Baird, MP for Redcar, has agreed to officially start the Redcar half-marathon and then run in the event, raising money for a memorial to Mo Mowlam with every step; the event takes place 20 April. Gateshead College’s new Baltic campus now includes a full spa facility for the training of beauty therapists. DC Leisure has announced that its Kinetica health clubs now have 90,000 members across its 75 sites. Fitness First has pledged its support and some of its training funding to the National Skills Academy, the development initiative led by SkillsActive. The British Military Fitness company, which already has 6,000 members in the UK, is opening a new branch [perhaps ‘front’?] in Cape Town.


News from the departments: a News in Brief guide to Whitehall

The largest ever survey of urban trees in England shows that although national tree health has improved markedly since the last survey in 1992, with trees being maintained much more regularly by councils, there has been a decline in the number of older trees in towns and cities and overall planting rates of new trees has fallen. A scheme to improve access to and uptake of library services was among the rural delivery pathfinder projects celebrated by Defra as good practice for the improvement of local services. Young people’s minister Kevin Brennan has announced £31million over the next three years for the Children, Young People and Families Grant Programme which awards funding to “third sector organisations whose work improves outcomes for children, young people and families”. Biodiversity minister Joan Ruddock visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's London Wetland Centre to announce additional protection for the watervole. Culture secretary Andy Burnham has launched a comprehensive action plan to support Britain's creative industries; the strategy is published jointly by the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). Culture minister Margaret Hodge has placed a temporary export bar on the Dering Roll, a decorated manuscript roll of arms on vellum. The Horserace Betting Levy scheme is to remain unchanged, meaning that most off-course bookmakers will continue to pay 10% of their gross profits on horserace betting towards the upkeep of the sport. Defra has announced both a policy and an action plan to help local communities manage feral wild boar populations.



News in brief
Staccato reports from the cultural typeface

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Lord's Cricket Ground: the pavilion can stay but the rest of you have got to go

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