On 30 September, town residents are invited to the History Society’s meeting at the Upper Town Hall to discuss whether the soon-to-be vacated police station could become the new site for Chipping Norton’s museum. In our September edition, mayor Mike Tysoe argued that two town institutions – the police station building and the museum – needed to be saved, and that their fate was linked. The museum currently rents a room above Beales, and is not accessible to all due to the steep flight of stairs needed to access it. Meanwhile, the police are to leave the police station for a smaller, more central premises, and the station will then be sold, possibly for around £750,000. The existing station is a historic building – the last of the Cotswold stone, purpose-built police stations still in existence, dating from the 1850s. At its August meeting, the town council stated that the ‘museum adds value to the town’ (although two councillors did state that they ‘remain to be convinced’) but that its current site was not fit for purpose. It then discussed whether the museum could move to the police station site – which would obviously have implications in terms of money. The town council is now asking:
1. Does the town want to save the museum? 2. Does the town want to save the police station? 3. Is the town prepared to spend up to £1 million (purchase and conversion cost) in saving these two institutions?
To find out town opinion, a meeting will be held in the Upper Town Hall on 30 September at 7.30pm, where the public are invited to discuss what they think about the future of these two town places. This will include discussion of how to raise funds for the purchase if this is what the town wants to do, and to agree a plan. This will immediately follow the History Society’s meeting to discuss what they want to do with the museum. At the town council meeting, the mayor sounded keen to have Chippy museum based at the police station building. This would be, he said, a location where tourists would notice it and be more likely to visit, and where there is space for a cafe, for example, to be build on site, or other facilities, in an accessible location where more of the museum’s artefacts can be brought out of storage and displayed. However, he warned that “unless I have the backing of the town, I won’t do it.”