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Cash-strapped council to take out £2m loan to build archive building

29 Apr 2024 3 minute read
County Hall in Ruthin, Denbighshire

Richard Evans Local Democracy Reporter

A cash-strapped council will invest £2m of borrowed money in a new purpose-built £12m archive building in Mold to store documents of historical importance.

Denbighshire County Council will take out a £2m loan to finance the new building across the border in neighbouring Flintshire.

Denbighshire Council’s [DCC] cabinet voted unanimously in favour of backing the move at a meeting at its Ruthin County Hall HQ this week.

DCC currently stores its archive material in Ruthin Gaol, but the storage space is now full.

Councillors also heard how the building’s environmental management and gas fire suppression systems, needed to protect the materials, are at end of life, meaning the current arrangements are unsustainable.

Duty

The authority has a statutory duty to protect its archives.

Back in November 2020 and again in October 2023, Denbighshire’s cabinet authorised the submission of a joint funding bid with Flintshire to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Wales.

The bid was successful, meaning the two authorities will receive a capital grant of £7,371,397 to fund the new purpose-built net carbon zero building on the Theatr Clwyd campus in Mold.

The grant is on the understanding that both Denbighshire and Flintshire will provide match contributions of £2,052,358 and £3,078,537 respectively to fund the project.

But Denbighshire will fund the cost of the archive building through prudential borrowing.

Cllr Emrys Wynne is the lead member for the Welsh language, culture, and heritage and proposed councillors voted in favour of the new building.

Cllr Wynne’s proposal was seconded by Cllr Julie Matthews before all cabinet members voted in favour.

Before the decision, Cllr Wynne argued it made sense that Denbighshire took a £2m loan over a 50-year period.

“I would urge members to listen carefully to the logic of the argument on this because it actually makes financial sense to support this proposal,” he said.

“We know we have some very serious problems with our current archive facility in Ruthin Jail. The storage space is full, and the systems required to maintain air quality and protect the materials are at the end of their life, and they are very old now. So the current arrangements are not sustainable, and we need to find a long-term solution. That is a fact.”

Cllr Wynne added: “Archive materials are precious and fragile and need to be stored in specific conditions. They also have great historical and cultural value, and we have a statutory duty to protect them; therefore, if we accept the protection of these materials is something we need to do constantly, then it follows that we need to invest in the facility that enables us to do so.”


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