Museum in Wat Tyler Country Park, near Basildon in Essex, not cost effective or suitably located, Basildon Council says

The future of the Motorboat Museum in Wat Tyler Country Park, Essex looks bleak after the local council approved plans to halve it in size and potentially remove the exhibits from the museum entirely.

The free museum, which attracted around 17,000 visitors last year, costs Basildon Council around £100,000 a year to run, and councillors have agreed that the facility is neither cost effective nor suitably located.

Kevin Blake, the councillor responsible for leisure and art, told MBM, “Everyone says they want the Motorboat Museum, but no one ever goes there. The building has no heating, no toilets and it’s freezing.

“All councils are under extreme spending pressure, and without spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, there’s no money around to upgrade it to a standard that would make people want to go there.”

One half of the museum is to be given over to an environmentally friendly visitor attraction, as the Government funding being used to develop it is conditioned on it going towards something ‘green’. The council anticipates that this will be complete by 31 March 2011.

What happens with the remaining half of the museum is still up for negotiation, but Blake insists that the boats and archives would not just be discarded.

He said Basildon Council would like to see another authority take on the museum, and he confirmed that Harwich Town Council had made an approach, but nothing has so far come of it.

Chris Kaye, secretary of the Friends of the Motorboat Museum, said, “It’s devastating, but, of course, Basildon Council is not being unreasonable in the circumstances to decide that the museum is something they can dispense with.

“We have to accept that, move on and make sure the collection is preserved. We also have to find some other place to take it. We want to ensure there is a proper plan for closing down the museum and that the council doesn’t just shut the doors and walk away. That’s really our priority.”