Agenda and minutes

Colchester & Ipswich Joint Museums Committee - Tuesday 20th January 2015 2.00 pm

Venue: Room G3, Rowan House, Sheepen Road, Colchester

Contact: Linda Slowgrove  04173 432511

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Rudkin and Helen Pluck.


Unconfirmed Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 43 KB

To consider the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 2014.




that the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 2014 be signed as a true record.


To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business




that the Order of Business be confirmed as printed on the Agenda.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


JMS/14/07 Performance Update pdf icon PDF 101 KB

The Committee is asked to note the report.


17.1.     Councillor Smith asked what groups had been hiring Colchester Castle.  Mr Seaman (Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service Manager) reported that the venue was primarily being hired out for weddings and some corporate hire, and offered facilities to support external catering.  Councillor Jones congratulated the Museum staff on the performance since the re-opening of Colchester Castle and highlighted the need to market Christchurch Mansion as a wedding venue.

17.2.     Councillor Smart asked whether there had been a dip in attendance figures prior to the refurbishment of Colchester Castle.  Mr Seaman confirmed that there had been a tail off in the visitor figures, but the empty building had provided opportunities to hold different types of event prior to the works commencing.

17.3.     Councillor Smith asked what the national trend was for museums attendance.  Mr Seaman reported that it was a mixed picture, partly depending on whether admission was free or not, and the extent of the impact arising from changes in the national curriculum; however, where investment had been made, there had been greater returns.

17.4.     Councillor Young asked whether a programme of special events had been planned following the success of the Victorian Christmas at Christchurch Mansion.  Mr Seaman reported that Christmas events at both Christchurch Mansion and Colchester Castle had been successful this year, providing opportunities for secondary sales, and these events would be expanded for this year.

17.5.     Councillor Jones questioned why the Gainsboroughs had been taken out of the Wolsey Art Gallery and requested that they be returned to this room.



that the report be noted.


Presentation by the Retail Manager


18.1.     Claire Sanders (Retail Manager) gave a presentation on the issues and opportunities relating to the Joint Museums Service retail offer. The Service offered a wide range of venues, but there was little crossover in the stock range, which had become run down.  Electronic point-of-sale equipment was essential to provide greater stock control and this had now been rolled out to all sites.

18.2.     For each site (Ipswich Museum, Christchurch Mansion, Colchester Castle), Ms Sanders detailed performance figures and issues, target demographics, best-selling items and product development plans (e.g. core range, targeted branding).  

18.3.     Councillor Smart noted the cost issue of digitising town-specific history publications, such as ‘A Rhino in High Street’, and asked whether other museums/town had encountered this problem.  Councillor Smart added that there could be opportunities to work with other organisations to jointly produce a series of books on East Anglia towns that could be sold across the region, spreading the cost of production and marketing.

18.4.     Councillor Smith asked whether it was worth exploring online sales of any unique products developed. Ms Sanders reported that this had been considered, but wasn’t currently viable; currently the museum shops processed a few telephone sales, but this was labour intensive. Once the bespoke range of products was available, sales options would be investigated. Mr Seaman added that there would need to be considerable volumes of online sales for it to become efficient in light of the effort involved in packaging. 

18.5.     Mr Mole (Head of Community & Cultural Services, Ipswich) reported that discussions had taken place with the previous hosts of the Aspire Project in relation to what merchandise sold well, and added that any leftover stock could be sold onto the next host venue.

18.6.     It was agreed that a further retail update be presented to the Committee in 6 months’ time.



that the presentation be noted.


JMS/14/08 Completion of Annual Audit 2013/14 pdf icon PDF 27 KB

The Committee is asked to note the publication of the audited Annual Return for 2013/14.

Additional documents:


19.1.     Mr Heath (Finance Manager, Colchester) confirmed that the interest from the Albert Memorial Fund (referenced in report JMS/14/03 of the June 2014 meeting) would be included in future Annual Returns and was likely to be in the region of £15,000 for 2014/15.

19.2.     Mr Heath reported that the only recommendation from the Auditor was to amend the ‘Total cash and short term investments’ to include petty cash balances and this change had been applied.

19.3.     Mr Heath reported that 2014/15 would be the last year that the Joint Museum Committee would be obliged to produce a separate Annual Return, and a decision would be required in June 2015 as to whether the Committee wanted to continue with this practice.



that the publication of the audited Annual Return for 2013/14 be noted.


JMS/14/09 Risk Management Process pdf icon PDF 30 KB

The Committee is asked to review and comment on the risk register for the Joint Museum Service.

Additional documents:


20.1.     Ms McGrath (Corporate Governance Manager, Colchester) invited comment on the Strategic Risk Register and Risk Matrix.

20.2.     Councillor Smith asked whether the risks items should be renumbered sequentially.  Ms McGrath highlighted that this was a historic document that listed the risks that had previously been removed. It was agreed to add a note to explain the gaps in the numbering.



that the Risk Register be updated in light of comments raised by the Joint Museum Committee.


JMS/14/10 Budget Update 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 40 KB

The Committee is asked to note the current indicative position in relation to setting the 2015/16 budget for the Colchester and Ipswich Joint Museum Service and recommend the financial contributions from Colchester Borough Council and Ipswich Borough Council, to be agreed through each Council’s budget setting process.


21.1.     Councillor Smith requested an explanation on how the 2015/16 contributions of the individual authorities had been derived from 2014/15 figures.
Action: Mr Seaman to provide information on the derivation of the 2015/16 figures for each authority.



(i)           that the total Colchester Borough Council and Ipswich Borough Council contribution to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service for 2015/16 be agreed as £1,446,400;

(ii)          that the budget contribution for 2015/16 in relation to Colchester Borough Council be agreed at £670,800;

(iii)         that the budget contribution for 2015/16 in relation to Ipswich Borough Council be agreed at £775,600;

(iv)        that the total figure and the respective partner contributions be recommended to the Cabinet of Colchester Borough Council and the Executive of Ipswich Borough Council for adoption.