Concerns over future use of hall
Calls have been made for a rethink on the closure of a museum at an 18th century mansion.
Residents who live near Leicester's Belgrave Hall, which shut in October, are concerned about plans to re-launch the historic building as a venue for private functions and public events in the spring.
Bosses at Leicester City Council said the hall and its picturesque gardens were unsuited for use as a museum and are looking at ways they can generate more cash.
The issue was discussed at the latest Belgrave and Latimer Community meeting and a vote was held on whether the hall should be retained as a museum with free access to the general public.
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Rushey Mead city councillor Ross Willmott, who lives in Belgrave, said: "There is a strong feeling the city council has got it wrong on Belgrave Hall.
"There was a vote on whether the museum should remain. There were about 70 people and it was unanimous it should."
Coun Willmott said a number of his colleagues, including former council leader Veejay Patel, assistant mayor Manjula Sood and John Thomas voted to keep the museum at that meeting.
The council said the hall attracted the lowest number of visitors of any of its museums and that its plans will see about £140,000 of Arts Council cash spent in improving the venue.
The hall received 16,000 visitors in 2011-12.
Coun Willmott said: "What people liked about the hall was that it is was free to enjoy.
"Under the proposals, when it reopens the vast majority of visitors will have to pay in some form to use it.
"We are told there will £40,000 saving from closing the museum. That is not a lot of money."
He suggested setting up a tea room which could create income and make the hall viable as an attraction. Coun Willmott said: "It is not too late for the council to change its mind on this.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "It concerns me there may be some disinformation about what we are doing with Belgrave Hall.
"It is not being closed but we are changing the way we use it and we are investing in it.
"When it reopens it will a greatly improved visitor experience."
A council report on the hall said: "The plan changes the way the service is delivered so that Belgrave Hall is presented as a beautiful, high quality period house with fresh, attractive interiors and facilities suitable for a range of modern income generating functions."
Leicester Civic Society chairman Stuart Bailey said: "The council has done much to promote the city's heritage recently but closing a museum is a backward step however you dress it up.
"Again, people have shown they don't like what is being proposed."