Thursday, 27 July 2017

Northamptonshire Record Office fees - the archive sector responds

The following statement has been issued by John Chambers, Chief Executive of the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) (, with regards to the shocking developments concerning records access at Northamptonshire Record Office (see

The news of the drastic service reductions at Northamptonshire Record Office in England this week came as a surprise to the Archives and Records Association. In short the county council has reduced the ‘free public access’ element of the service to 12 hours a week (three mornings), proposing to charge over £30 an hour for ‘research support’ outside these hours. Usually we get to hear about threatened cuts and can take some pre-emptive action but on this occasion we were not aware of these proposals. We will now do what we can to challenge the cuts in free public access. The proposed charges are likely to cost more to administer than they ever raise in revenue. There are bound to be questions about the sustainability of the archive service in Northamptonshire, its status as an official Place of Deposit and the county’s ability to retain custody of part of its local heritage over the long term.

We have contacted The National Archives about the Northamptonshire situation. As TNA is the regulator of Places of Deposit in England and Wales, we will urge it to seek to reverse what has happened. We will be contacting both the Leader and Chief Executive of Northamptonshire County Council and others to urge the same.

Separately, members will know that the ARA has been working on the sustainability and resilience of local government record offices for the last year and commissioned a report from Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan. The ARA Board considered and approved the report at its annual planning day last month and is developing an action plan based on the recommendations in the report. We will publish the findings after Conference in the autumn. Evidently, the need for us to lead this work going forward has become more urgent than ever.

COMMENT: It seems clear that this move by Northamptonshire County Council is out of step with what the archive sector itself considers best practice.

A reminder that the petition opposing the development is online at

(With thanks to Lorraine Logan and John Chambers)


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1 comment:

  1. As regards what do you get.... £30 per hour is the going rate at Chester Record Office - for a professional to do the research for you.