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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Same old excuses from new Welsh First Minister

A large number of the commentariat have been shocked by the recent announcement of ninety job losses at the National Museum and Galleries of Wales, but more so by the claim by Museum Wales' chief executive Jane Richardson's that she may be forced to close one of its best known buildings, National Museum Cardiff, because of its deteriorating condition.

Naturally, the new First Minister was approached for a comment and, true to form, he demonstrated his trademark political clay feet by failing to even allay people's concerns. As the BBC report, at his press conference in Ebbw Vale on Monday, Vaughan Gething offered no immediate help for Museum Wales, saying that the potential closure was a consequence of making the NHS a priority after a decade of austerity and that the Welsh government faced "difficult choices":

In a statement released the next day, Museum Wales said it currently has no plans to close National Museum Cardiff.

"However, the deterioration to the roof of the museum is significant," the statement said.

"We're therefore in discussions with Welsh government to secure capital funding specifically for building maintenance."

In a bid to prop up the NHS and Transport for Wales the Welsh government has made cuts to most other areas of its budget.

Museum Wales has had a £3m reduction in its grant, but says that because it continues to incur a year-on-year deficit of £1.5m it had to address a total deficit of £4.5m by the of March.

It has a £90m repair backlog across its sites - the organisation runs seven national museums.

It is the same old story, the same excuses, blame somebody else and moan that there is nothing that can be done. Except in this case, it shouldn't be too difficult to secure the future of the Cardiff museum as the urgent need is for capital investment, not revenue and that can be borrowed, or the Welsh Government can move around their existing programme to provide assistance.

So, why didn't Vaughan Gething say instead that they are looking at that specific aspect of the museum's crisis? 

Already, we are getting indications of a significant fall-off in quality at the top of the Welsh Government. Is Gething starting to look tired already?

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