Birmingham’s historic Aston Manor Road Transport Museum looks set to close at the end of the year after its £350k bid to buy its grade II listed Victorian Tram shed home from the city council was rejected.
The offer was turned down amid complex disagreements over the valuation of the building, potential lease arrangements and issues with unpaid rent.
The museum had been living in the depot rent free, under a subsidy from the council’s museums department. However, the subsidy ended two years ago and the council’s property division is demanding £43k rent per year.
Initially the council offered the building to the museum for £900k, even though an independent professional valuation said the building is worth about £250k.
A fund raising campaign launched in March, and reported in CBW at the time, has so far received more than £110k in pledges.
The museum’s chairman Geoff Lusher said it had little option but to close and will likely have to sell off its collection of historic buses and transport memorabilia.
He has also accused the city council of failing to value its heritage and contribution to the city, such as its ability to attract 10,000 visitors a year and its close links with community groups in Aston.
Mr Lusher said: “I am disappointed our cultural and social contribution to the city and impact on the local economy was not recognised. Their idea of heritage is only something which can be measured in pounds.
“Aston is a deprived community which we engage with through open days, links with Aston Hall, the parish church and local Mosque.”
The council said it is with sadness it has accepted the museum will close as it is unable to support it without considerable financial support from the taxpayer.
The council added that it has already provided £650k over the last 15 years, but would not pursue outstanding rent owed on the building.
City finance chief cllr Randal Brew (Conservative, Northfield) said: “Despite giving the trustees every chance to come up with a sustainable long-term business plan, including several extensions to previous deadlines, they unfortunately have been unable to do so.
“It is the council’s duty to provide best value to the taxpayer.”