Consultation (closed)

Leave a comment

The heritage service consultation is now closed.

Approval to transfer the county’s heritage services to a newly created Heritage Trust has now been given.

Below you will find the general comments left on this page during the consultation.

37 comments on “Leave a comment

  1. John Michael Braund |

    I will first quote my cousin from below: “I am concerned about the impact on NDRO. Especially with the inadequacies and expense of transport, I feel it is essential that access to records in this part of the county is not compromised. In order to encourage people to take pride in their heritage it needs to be accessible. This includes access to original documents and not just to microfilm, fiche and digital images.” [Janet Few] I would urge you strongly not to make this arrangement merely to save money. The economies of the U.K. and the U.S. are both improving. Easy access to the records and artifacts contained at the NDRO is, in view of the hundreds of years of history and heritage they represent, invaluable in terms of economy, when access to the whole fabric of the history and culture of southwest England is what’s at stake. I am a proud descendant of that heritage and rely upon the access provided currently to my cousins there in Devon to do the crucial research that binds us, wherever we are, back to the home country. Please consider this thoughtfully and make no hasty decisions. Thanks!

  2. H.J. Murch |

    First Q.9 in the consultation form does not give a broad enough range of options. I am a native of North Devon but now live in Oxfordshire consequently I use the North Devon Record office 3/4 times a year rather than any of the alternative offered.

    My family history is tied totally to North Devon, and with family still living in the area visiting and accessing /researching the information I need is extremely convenient and practical – moving these records to Exeter or Somerset would be a tragedy as far as I am concerned.

    Where can you find a more knowledgable, helpful and dedicated staff than that at the North Devon Record Office? Only once have I ventured to the Record Office at Exeter (not very accessible) and came away feeling somewhat depressed and disappoiinted at the level of help and support I was offered there.

    How will researchers with no access to private transport fare? Barnstaple’s Record Office, situated where it is, is accessible to everyone – just as it should be.

    I fully appreciate the current economic climate and research needs to be carried out into ways of making savings but we are repeatedly being assured that we ‘have turned the corner’ and things are improving steadily. If this is so, and I believe it is, there is no reason to disrupt a service which is obviously well used and valued by so many people.

    In conclusion I would be extremely disappointed to learn the records I have given to the Barnstaple Office (though limited) would no longer be available at that local resource centre.

  3. Dr David Phipps |

    I suspect that, as reported in the North Devon Journal, the undeclared aim of the plan is to close the North Devon Record Office. The fact that it is not going into the Trust seems to support this.
    Obviously money is short, but there are numerous reasons why this is an unfortunate idea.
    First, Barnstaple is a long way from both Exeter and Taunton. As someone who has deposited records, I would not want to see them taken nearly fifty miles away. Even with a car, travelling to Sowton takes a good part of the day. Others I have spoken to agree with me.
    Secondly, North Devon does have an identity of its own and is culturally very different from Exeter and from Somerset. This is one step to its losing whatever it has as a place of value in the County, and is really about regional identity. It is a truism, but if we don’t know where we have come from, we don’t know who we are.
    Thirdly, the staff are not only very friendly and helpful (as commented on elsewhere), but also have a large fund of local knowledge. Once this is lost or dispersed, it would be very difficult to replace.
    Fourthly, the NDRO is really the only one of the Record Offices which is readily accessible by public transport. This matters for a good number of people.
    Fifthly, the County has some responsibility towards the N.D. Athenaeum, a private library, which moved into the Library building on the assumption that the Record Office would be there.
    Probably the NDRO does not matter much to those in Exeter, but it matters to North Devon. It really is important to do everything possible to keep it open.

  4. Mrs Linda Rayment (nee Lerwill) |

    I was born and grew up in North Devon and, since moving away, I have been a regular visitor to North Devon for over 40 years for family holidays and visiting family and friends. For the past 20 years I have been a regular user of the NDRO for research into family history. I have been amazed at the breadth and depth of material available and the dedicated staff who are responsible for maintaining and protecting all the artefacts. The priceless and unique collection is in the custody of North Devon District Council and needs to be retained for the benefit of everyone including the local community and future generations. The District Council have a duty of care to ensure the collection is updated, maintained and protected in a safe and local environment by specialist staff.

  5. Peter Child |

    The case for these changes seems to be entirely predicated on an arbitrary threat to reduce funding to the DHC to an unviably low level if it is not moved into the trust. No explanation has been offered as to why significantly more funding for the DHC is available if it is moved into the trust than if it remains in the DCC’s care, so this aspect of the proposals is quite baffling- one can only suspect that the long-term objective is to reduce DCC’s funding to a minimum, perhaps with the shorter-term objective of numerically reducing the DCC payroll. The lack of any financial modeling makes any clear understanding of this aspect of the proposal impossible.

    While it is possible to see how such a trust might work in a single county such as Somerset where the county council already has care of a variety of heritage assets which it can hand over en bloc, randomly adding another asset from outside the county simply makes no rational sense. It is not proposed to include any other heritage organisation from the south west in the trust and it is most unlikely that any would want to be included. Apart from the promise of a lesser reduction in funding no other obvious benefits are offered apart from an alleged greater freedom of operation for the DHC. What this would mean in practice is wholly unclear. The fact that the two county councils are the present operators of the various museums and record offices has in no way inhibited their development or their ability to access funds from outside, as is witnessed by the recent complete remaking of the Somerset County Museum and fine new buildings for both record offices. How would the council tax payers of either Devon or Somerset be sure that their funds were being allocated fairly within the trust? What happens if it fails? The minuscule timetable allocated to implement the change is totally inadequate. Pension Services and Trading Standards are offered as comparisons but these operate over whole counties and offer wholly different services. The logic of this proposal is wholly unclear – it looks simply like a device by which DCC can minimise its responsibility for financing the DHC. In the long term this must inevitably be to its detriment.

    In the various presentations much was made of the protection of staff pay and conditions under ‘TUPE’ regulations, but we note that (i) the protection of pay and conditions applies only to existing staff, rather than new staff; (ii) the pension scheme will not be available to new staff; and (iii) we noted in passing a number of telling references to personnel matters in terms that clearly indicated they were regarded as part of the problem (e.g. references to ‘the problem of pensions’). As regular users and supporters of both collections (the local studies library and archives) we well know that competent, knowledgeable and experienced staff are the very core of a successful operation of this type, and their expertise and detailed knowledge of the collections greatly enhances the experience of many users. We believe that the present staff (already eroded, and probably demoralized, by cuts) should be recognized as the key asset of the Devon Heritage Centre, and one that needs to be valued and developed. The contrary approach revealed by the various comments relayed at the Exeter and Taunton meetings appears deeply worrying.

    Another issue of concern is that of ownership of collections, and particularly of confidence in the DHC as a responsible archive repository. DCC will provide funding guaranteed for five years, and we were told this would be re-negotiated thereafter (which we take to mean likely to be reduced thereafter). We were also told that the move to a trust would not affect the present ownership status of the collections. But if confidence begins to be lost (either by the move to a trust, or by worries over its longer-term viability) what is there to deter depositors of documents, who have in the past been led to believe that the County Record Offices provided the best location and optimum conditions for long-term care and curation of archives, from retrieving their deposits and ‘going it alone’? Devon’s archivists and local studies librarians have laboured for sixty years and more to build up the collections: loss of confidence could mean regression to the bad old days of muniments becoming inaccessible again and prone to neglect, decay and even total loss.

    Peter Child
    Secretary
    Devon Buildings Group.

  6. B and A Northover |

    We have enjoyed a magnificent service over the last decade from the staff at North Devon Record Office, the Devon Library and the North Devon Athenaeum, operating in Barnstaple Library Building. These people’s strength lies in their being able to share their impressive knowledge of North Devon and to make available to us amateur historians the huge amount of material stored in the Local Studies Centre at Tuly Street, Barnstaple. It is a priceless collection and if it is going to be of maximal use in future it must be available to the public for study in the geographical locality to which it is most relevant. Moving it will greatly reduce its utility.
    We fully appreciate that financial savings are obligatory on account of drastic reductions in the money made available by central government to County Councils, the latter being obliged, therefore, to scale back the money allocated to many types of service, with Heritage Services being no exception, of course.
    We would not presume to know enough about Trusts of the type being proposed to offer an opinion as to whether such Trusts are the best way to achieve the provision of new sources of money to supplement what may still be available directly or indirectly from government grant. What we do know, however, is that it is of paramount importance for continued provision of archive material relating to North Devon to continue to be held in North Devon. What is more, the staff who currently act as an interface between public “consumers” of the service, and the stores of material of an archival type actually held in Local Studies at Barnstaple, should be enabled (albeit probably on a reduced frequency per week of spells of duty in Local Studies) to share their expertise with us, the “consumers of service”.
    It is necessary to point out, as other correspondents have not so far mentioned the point, that new accessions are constantly being received by the Record Office in Barnstaple. It would be a huge loss to future historians if that were to cease because suitable staff were not in post to receive, catalogue (and make available via the Internet through Access to Archives) this material. But it takes suitable persons to do that work. At the moment that means the current staff of Local Studies in Barnstaple. They could spend a part of their time doing this necessary work, but at other times they could be interacting with the public by doing paid work for folk who are prepared to pay for historical work to be undertaken. This is the regular pattern in numerous other archive repositories in England. It would be an important income stream for the proposed Trust. We must try to preserve the skills of the present staff of Local Studies so that when the public want help (and are prepared to pay for it) the necessary skills are still there and in the right place to deliver it . If this is not achieved a great gap is going to open up in the Heritage resource of North Devon.

  7. Dr Jo Cox |

    Strongly support Mrs B Coe’s comments, 28th January.

    Question 8 is flawed. No option for noting use of all the archives listed.

    The system for requesting updates on progress does not work. I gave up after 5 tries. I would like updates

  8. Jonathan Frayne |

    I believe the Trust is a good idea but I remain puzzled as to why it leaves out the NDRO. This office is a vital part of local services in North Devon and of the culture of the area. There is no space, I understand, in Exeter to house the records held there so the space of the archive strongroom is going to be needed. The sole saving is of the two members of staff in Barnstaple which is going to be trivial to the budget of the trust. I believe there are other ways of managing the NDRO in partnership with other agencies, not necessarily from within the DCC. Filling up the building with tenants would also help to balance the budget and the North Devon Council is likely to be seeking more office space shortly when oit leaves the Civic Centre. The Athenaeum already shares the archive and has staff on site so they would make ideal partners to help run the NDRO. DCC has provided finding to allow for another year to run the NDRO as is and afford an opportunity to consider options for the futre. I would urge the Heritage Service in Devon to grasp this opportunity and to publish a plan for the future at an early date that will keep the NDRO open.

  9. tim.wormleighton |

    We would like to reassure those concerned that there is no suggestion whatsoever in these proposals of transferring any of Devon’s records to Somerset.

  10. Debbie Nelson |

    I was very disappointed to hear that the ND RO could well close and its records shifted to Somerset. Why Somerset should have Devon records is beyond my understanding. I have visited several Records’ Offices around the country, and they have always been within the county they serve.
    The staff at the RO have local knowledge which will be lost unless these new plans include them (assuming they want to sell their homes, get their partners to change jobs, children to change schools, etc.) As usual North Devon doesn’t rank high in county decisions even though it covers a very large area incorporating at least 45k homes. I have used the Exeter Records Office but that has taking forward planning and involved booking a place. It is also a 90 minute drive to the ERO from Barnstaple, and that is on a good run, and same on the return journey. This also makes it a costly event.
    I agree with other peoples’ comments of bias in the questionnaire as it did not allow me to answer the way I would have liked. I visit the North Devon Records Office several times a year, but can only do so in school holiday times, not once a month or once a year. I do not work Wednesdays and weekends, but the Office is closed on those days, the service already having been cut back (no doubt through financial constraints).
    Please leave it alone!

  11. Pat Heaton |

    In looking for records of my Wilkey ancestors in Goodleigh, I visited the North Devon Records Office in 2009. I took the train from Bristol to Exeter and then to Barnstaple. By the time I found the Parish Records I was looking for, it was late in the day and it was problematical that I would be able to get copies before the office closed. The person behind the desk was very helpful and arranged for the copies to be made and mailed to me at my home in California for a modest fee which I was pleased to pay since I had only the one day in Barnstaple. When I returned home, the copies were waiting for me at the post office. In addition, I had a chance to look around Barnstaple and go to the Museum. In about 1865, my ancestors [Joseph White and family] had lived on the Barnstaple-Goodleigh road before emigrating to New Brunswick, Canada, and later to the US and California. Some day I hope to return with my daughter [to drive me] and visit Goodleigh. I have mixed feelings about whether the records should be retained locally [where they might be capriciously destroyed or not cared for] or whether it would be better if they were more centrally located, digitized, and preserved for future generations. Although I’m primarily interested in getting the data about my family, it certainly was a thrill to see/touch/look through the 1839 Bristol Survey Book at the Bristol Record Office. I am a member of the Bristol & Avon Family History Society [and happy that I can pay my dues from the US via GenFair].

  12. Susan Scrutton |

    Continued access to the archive at the NDRO is absolutely essential to allow people
    from N Devon to do research. Now the Exeter Office has moved to the outskirts of
    the city it is very difficult to do any meaningful research if you rely on public transport.
    Last time I went to the DRO I had to put the dog into kennels and book a b and b,
    whereas a 40 minute bus journey allows me to put in a couple of hours at Barnstaple

  13. Jeremy Phillips |

    I have used the North Devon Records office since 1983. I used to use it on a Saturday, until thay service was withdrawn. Over the last thirty years I have found the staff to be professional, supportive and a wonderful source of local knowlwedge. I believe that this level of expertise can only be maintained, if the current staff and the office are included in the proposals for a heritage trust.

    I would appear that the trust would have only two centres, Exeter and one in Somerset. If North Devon Records office is not included in the trust will it be gently pushed to one side, and how long will it be before it is closed and the records transfered to Exeter, or to somewhere in Somerset. To safeguard the office I belive it should be included in the trust and the staff transfered as well, if they wish to go.

  14. Elizabeth Jackson |

    Iam very concerned to find that the NDRO may be incorporated into the Taunton Record Office or the Exeter Record Office.
    Born in Australia but living in Hertfordshire I have for over 25 years or more accessed,transcribed,collated and written about and deposited my findings.. I couldn’t have done this so well without the friendly,dedicated support of the NDRO team by whom my queries have always been dealt with so promptly no matter how trivial the request,, and the relevant documents sent by mail or Email along with any additional information concerning the best way to access them.
    I wonder how many of my fellow genealogists, researching from abroad or visiting England, would, and there are many more every day,, associate Taunton in Somerset with North Devon, and I’m sure that they would far rather experience the warm welcome of Barnstaple NDRO, and its town people than deal with an impersonal record office on the outskirts of Exeter.
    Keep the NDRO Please Lets Treasure it!!

  15. Lance Housley |

    What a travesty of a questionnaire! Where’s the option to say that the service should remain within the county council? There are so many design flaws, even ignoring the apparently deliberate bias, too – in the question on how often I use the service, I was given no option between “more than once a month” and “about once a year”.

  16. Dave Grove |

    I’m very sorry to see that there is a possibility that the North Devon Record Office will not be included in any new heritage set-up. I have used the NDRO for some time now. Having used a number of record offices throughout the country I can say that the NDRO staff are the most helpful I have found, always going that ‘extra mile’. They have excellent knowledge (both local and national), are friendly, and always ready to help however busy they are.
    The NDRO is very well placed centrally in the town with good parking and bus service – important when encouraging local people to use the facilities. It fits together very well with the local studies library and the Athenaeum records in the same building.
    If the NDRO is closed, and the staff blown to the four winds, all that valuable experience will be lost. Ancestry and local history are of growing importance, and more publicity should be given to the NDRO (and Exeter). Once it’s gone then it’s probably gone forever, a real backward step for Devon records and their access.

  17. Peter Richardson |

    I agree with the comment already submitted that Question 8 is flawed. I have ancestry in _both_ Devon and Somerset and have used _all_three_ of the archives mentioned, so my answer to Q8 would be all of the above and that option is not available to me.

  18. Marilyn Hall |

    I would like to see NDRO remain open and all Devon records remain within the County.It is important to retain local knowledge and access to staff who are clearly interested in the history of the area. Whilst Whilst I understand there may be financial benefits in a merger with Somerset I feel that local knowledge will be lost. Bigger is not always better..

  19. Dick Croft |

    Having a joint operation with Somerset may be financially necesssary.

    However,there is no indication of what the long term status of the North Devon Record Office will be.

    If all records for Devon were to be centralised either in Exeter or in Somerset this would be to the detriment of those researchers based in North Devon concentrating on local history matters.

    The service I have received from the staff in the NDRO over the last ten years researching three different topics has been tremendously helpful.

    It is very important that the local knowledge of RO staff is retained in the region to which their records apply.

    It is well known that many politicians at national level have a very poor grasp of our nation’s history. It is to be hoped that local politicians are able to grasp the importance of our local historical resources and make sure they are retained locally.

  20. Lynette Gribble |

    Questions 8 & 9 are flawed.
    8. No opportunity to say I use both North Devon Record Office (& Devon Record Office).
    9. I have used the NDRO for a period of 12 years, often staying in Barnstaple to concentrate on 4 or 5 days research.
    A. My experience is that staff in LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARIES are more closely involved with their area than the staff in the main centres. This is as true for Barnstaple in relation to Devon Heritage Centre, as Southwark and Lambeth Local Studies Libraries in relation to Guildhall Library, London Metropolitan Archives and indeed the National Archives. It’s obvious.
    It could be tempting to reduce the collections to 2 sites, one for each county but it would not serve the public and Devon is a HUGE County!
    Therefore the TRUST could combine the core functions but the ACCESS MUST REMAIN LOCAL Having reached this conclusion, I have read the last few posts and am stunned to see that all you commentators feel that the archive and staff of NDRO have shown the very best of localism. DO NOT THROW THE BABY OUT!

  21. Derick skelly |

    Derick Skelly

    I have been going to the Devon Record office Exeter and the North Devon Record office since 1986 and have received excellent service from both offices. There is more and more interest in researching family history and House history theefore the need of the Record offices in Devon.
    Also People will not deposit documents in the Somerset Record office. Where they would deposit them in a local Devon office. Further more a lot of researchers come a long way and use the local bed and breakfast and hotels and often make a holiday of it.

  22. Linda Palmer |

    Each Council should hold the relevant records for ease of access. Combing two large counties would defeat the object of ease of use. When using the Centres for tracing family history there is also the need to visit the immediate area. The staff at Barnstaple are extremely helpful and their knowlege of their area and records available was so good. I’m sure that if I had a need to access Somerset records I would find the same dedication. Beware outsourcing Heritage to unaccountable Trusts who may find they have to find funding from elsewhere – YOU AND ME. Leave the onus on the Council to provide the service.

  23. Derris Watson |

    I have visted the NDRO several times a year for the past few years, making the journey up and back from Cornwall and staying for a couple of nights, in order to continue my research into my family history. The staff are brilliant, welcoming and helpful. It is a joy to work up there. I have once visited Exeter and found it freezing cold with unhelpful and disinterested staff. It would be a tragedy if the records were moved entirely out of Devon and that must not be allowed to happen
    I would be prepared to pay to be able to access the records as they are now in order to support their retention in Barnstaple

  24. Stuart Windsor |

    Like others, I am very concerned about the potential loss of the North Devon Records Office. I have spent many happy hours in the NDRO being supported and helped by the very experienced staff. The combination of the NDRO, the Athenaeum and Local Studies library means that all of the documents relating to North Devon are located in one place, and convenient to those who live in this geographically wide area.

    As Tim notes in his impact assessment, the majority of users of Record Office services are retired. As one of the minority(!) – living in North Devon and working full time in Plymouth – I have a real challenge accessing a service which is available less than Monday-Friday, 9-5. I truly hope that improved access will form one strand of what the Heritage Trust seeks to achieve.

    To be honest, if the NDRO is lost through this process (and I really hope that it is not), the Trust should think seriously about locating to a single site – Taunton for instance. There is little difference in distance, or access from North or West Devon to Taunton or Exeter. This could yield enormous savings which could be reinvested in heritage services. I would hope that if the NDRO were to close, the fiche and film records, which are a duplicate of those held in Exeter would be able to be retained in Barnstaple. This would at least allow those who rely on public transport to access some of archives. Maybe this could be achieved in conjunction with the Athenaeum.

  25. P. Scott |

    The creation of a Trust for the two counties does seem to be a sensible way forward, in view of current and future budgetary constraints. However, it is of concern that the proposals make no mention of the Record Office in Barnstaple remaining. The staff there have a huge amount of knowledge of documents available and suggestions for research which would be a loss to all of us who frequently visit. It is also easily accessible by public transport, has plenty of adjacent parking, and in the town centre, so more likely to bring income into businesses there, rather than the “out of town” sites in Exeter and Taunton.

    I think more could be done to genrate income for the service. This could include payment for a day/week/annual membership, as both county services used to do. Also, a strategy for digitising of records which could then be downloaded as “pay per view”. This would seem particularly relevant, given the large number of enquiries made by local and family history researchers from other parts of the country and overseas.

    Finally, in the “worst case scenario” that the North Devon office closes, would there be provision for microfiche copies of the parish registers and fiche machines to remain with the North Devon Athenaeum? Since these are duplicates of the fiches held in Exeter, surely they wouldn’t be needed there and there would still, at least, be some access to parish registers in Barnstaple?

  26. Janet Few |

    I am concerned about the impact on NDRO. Especially with the inadequacies and expense of transport, I feel it is essential that access to records in this part of the county is not compromised. In order to encourage people to take pride in their heritage it needs to be accessible. This includes access to original documents and not just to microfilm, fiche and digital images.

  27. Heriage Supporter |

    Really hope the plans include keeping North Devon Record office open. Vital for users in that area especially in view of an ageing population, and poor public transport links at the best of times, let alone in periods of extreme weather.

  28. Julie Withecombe |

    I Would be very sorry to see the North Devon Record Office close. I used to use it a lot, but owing to health problems, living in Bideford and not being a driver I am not able to get there very often now. It would be a very sad day if we lost it.

  29. Brian Randell |

    I support the comments made by William Cooke, A.G. Harris and others about the importance of the North Devon Record Office. It should not be sacrificed, but rather be an integral part of the proposed Heritage Trust

  30. Roger Donne |

    It is regrettable that any change needs to be made. I have always received good service at the Devon Heritage Centre and its facilities are excellent. However if changes are inevitable, I hope the Heritage Trust will always consider that the safety, maintenance and expansion of the archive is of paramount importance. For this, suitably qualified professional archivists need to be retained – the use of volunteers can only go so far.

  31. Bruce Peeke |

    No mention is made of any connection with Plymouth City Council where a number of Devon records have been held since 1974?
    Amongst all the illustrations setting out the proposals is a picture of the Royal Albert Museum in Exeter. There is no mention of Exeter City Council being involved although they are responsible for this building.
    There is no indication of what will be the relative importance of the Record Offices to the Trust compared to museums and whatever other “heritage” services they take on.
    Archives must remain in the ownership of the Council.

  32. Bob Hunter |

    Heritage is a growth Industry. Develop a strong brand with Somerset and Devon, work to include Cornwall and Dorset into the Trust and into the brand. Do some strong marketing regionally, nationally and internationally. Transfer ownership of archives. Be Brave! Plan to succeed. Plan to expand resources, access and facilities. Move to separate yourselves from the doom and gloom of contracting local government finance.
    This is a huge opportunity, grab it with both hands. The future is bright!

  33. William Cooke |

    I visit North Devon from Canada every two years and spend two or three days each visit at the North Devon Record Office in Barnstaple. While I have also used the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter, and the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton, I have always found my visits to the NDRO to be the most productive, and the most enjoyable. Part of this is location since the NDRO is close to the centre of Barnstaple, while the DHC and SHC are on the outskirts of their respective cities. Whether operated by Devon County Council or by a Heritage Trust, it is important to me that the NDRO continue to provide its excellent quality of service and ease of access to records.

  34. Julia Ellis |

    While I would have no objection to the proposal in principle, removal of records from the North Devon Records Office would have an extremely detrimental effect upon many people in the area. Access to either Taunton or Sowton by public transport from Barnstaple is very difficult, and such a move would particularly impact upon non-car owners and the elderly. As someone who has not only deposited records in the NDRO but frequently conducts research there I would find the removal of records very difficult. I appreciate the need to make savings in this area and would not object either to reduced opening hours for the NDRO or to the introduction of payment for a ‘researcher’s ticket’. The NDRO staff give an excellent service which would be sorely missed by many. Access to on-line records would not compensate.

  35. Jim Moulton |

    I would like to see the North Devon Record Office stay as it is, even if it means reducing the opening hours.

  36. A. G. Harris |

    The service I have received from the North Devon Record Office over the past twenty years has always been first class. That is true during visits to the office or by postal communication. All my family lines from both parents are found in North Devon and over the years-20 years and more- I have used the services of the North Devon Record Office extensively.
    I would not expect such a high quality of service from the heritage trust for myself or for other researchers with an interest in the records of North Devon and the closely linked area of North Cornwall, should the North Devon Record Office be downgraded.

  37. Mrs B Coe |

    This proposal was presented to Council Tax payers after a decision had apparently already been made, trustees already advertised for, etc. I am not convinced that this is the best way forward for Devon. It will be the junior partner in the proposed organisation because the services to be included are much smaller in scope than those in Somerset, which include the museums.
    The Heritage is too important to be left to the management of a completely unknown and untried trust, that will be virtually unaccountable for its actions. The costs associated with running the trust may outway any benefits in being able to gain grants from bodies that are themselves now squeezed, or trying to get sponsorship from companies. Selling more data to commercial companies defeats the purpose of having free resources because it is often associated with the withdrawal of the same information previously freely available.
    The money that will be allocated to the new trust could be used within the county to continue with the existing service, with some modifications. This consulation should have presented choices, with clear financial data for comparison, not just ask for comment on a decision that has already obviously been taken.
    With regard to item 2 above, surely the County Council was given the collections to keep in their ownership anyway? They should on no account be given or sold to any other organisation.