The History of Leith

November 20, 2008

Consideration of Petition PE 1083 : proposed Leith Museum Response on behalf of the Petitioners

On behalf of the Leith Museum Campaign, I would like to submit some brief observations on the responses received by the Public Petitions Committee following its most recent consideration of our petition.

We welcome the response from the Minister. Our campaign has met with Museums & Galleries Scotland as she has suggested, and we are pursuing the proposal for a feasibility study.

We also welcome in broad terms the response from the Director of National Museums Scotland, and his recognition that “the use of Leith Customs House is…not appropriate for what is one of the finest buildings in Leith.”

We are somewhat concerned, however, at his statement that the National Museums have no timescale for a move of their stored collections from Leith Custom House. Given that he also confirms that it has been the plan for a number of years for the National Museums to move all of their stored collections to the National Museums Collection Centre at Granton, and that there is now a broad recognition that Leith Customs House would be an excellent venue for a museum in Leith, we would respectfully suggest that now is the time for National Museums Scotland to prepare a strategy to allow them to move their stored collections to Granton within a reasonable time scale.

We also note that it is suggested that the Scottish Government does not have funds available for the proposed move to Granton for the foreseeable future. We would hope that the Scottish Government would enter into discussions with National Museums Scotland to identify how the funds for such a transfer might be made available in a future financial period. For our part, we recognise that if the Leith Museum Company, or a consortium of which we were a member, were to acquire the building, we would need to make an appropriate payment for the acquisition of the building which could constitute a contribution to the sums required by National Museums Scotland to allow them to proceed with their wish to move their Custom House collections to Granton.

We appreciate that the Public Petitions Committee may not wish to continue consideration of this matter indefinitely, and it may be that the committee might wish to leave further discussion on our petition until our proposed feasibility study has been completed, which we hope will be at some stage in 2009.

I would take this opportunity of advising the Committee that the Leith Museum Group is now formally constituted as a company limited by guarantee, and our application for charitable status has now been approved by OSCR.

Mark Lazarowicz MP

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