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Reporting local life since 1854

Friday, March 30, 2012

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CITY STAR RIC IN CONTRACT TALKS As fears grow that Potteries heritage will be sold off, a plea to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey as he visits today...

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Reporting local life since 1854

Saturday, April 24, 2010

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BOSS PUSHEES HUTTH’’S WORLD D CUPP BID

MUSEUM’S SOS TO SAVE COLLECTION

BY DAVID JOHNSON

david.johnson@thesentinel.co.uk

THE Wedgwood Museum faces raising millions of pounds to keep its famous collection together. The internationally-renowned attraction has gone into administration after being saddled with a £134 million pension fund deficit from the collapse of the Wedgwood company. Caverswall-based administrator Begbies Traynor said it was “confident for the future” of the Barlaston attraction. It will remain open to the public and no redundancies are expected among the five full-time and six part-time staff. Now Begbies Traynor is planning a fund-raising campaign to pay off the museum’s creditors and avoid the need to sell any of its treasures. The museum called in administrators yesterday after being hit with the £134 million claim by the Wedgwood Group Pension Plan. It was thought the company scheme would be taken over by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) following the collapse of Wedgwood and sister firm Royal Doulton last year.

Administrators may need millions to resolve Wedgwood pension crisis

But the PPF could not legally accept the scheme as there was still a surviving solvent organisation connected to it – the Wedgwood Museum. Now the museum is in administration, the PPF becomes the main creditor. Administrator Bob Young said Begbies Traynor would be approaching heritage organisations, the public and philanthropists to raise cash. He said: “The public should notice absolutely no difference, because I’m confident we’ll keep it open. “It’s a fantastic place to go and we would encourage people to visit. “This is not a typical administration where we are looking to sell things. “Rather than doing that we will be looking for a voluntary agreement from creditors to give us a period of time to raise money from elsewhere. “It will inevitably take some time to assess the best way forward in this complex situation, but we are aiming to

find a solution in conjunction with the trustees and the Heritage Lottery Fund that will enable the museum to continue trading and to maintain its marvellous collections.” Begbies Traynor is determining which parts of the famous collection are owned by the museum, which parts are owned by third parties and which are protected because they are held in trust. The museum’s assets can then be valued and Begbies will try to raise the equivalent amount for creditors – staving off the possibility of a sell-off. Only five of the pension plan’s 7,000 members were museum employees when the manufacturer fell into administration and the museum is a separate charitable trust. George Stonier, chairman of The Wedgwood Museum Trust, said: “The museum’s trustees and their advisers are working hard to find a solution to this extremely unfortunate situation. “The trustees are extremely grateful for the continued support of the museum’s staff and its many friends and remain optimistic that the collections will continue to be available to the public.”

What do you think should happen now?

Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk

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APPEAL: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.

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Dear Mr Vaizey,

We need your help. This region is in danger of losing a staggeringly important part of its culture. The Wedgwood Collection is 10,000 pieces of our history and heritage – a permanent record of the creativity and innovation of Potteries people. To historians it is a collection of international significance. To us, it is a precious symbol of an era in which this region was the beating heart of our nation’s industrial revolution. Too many symbols like this have already been allowed to slip away. Now we want your help to save this national treasure. Josiah Wedgwood’s family founded a museum in 1906 to fulfil his wish to have his works chronicled for the people. Little did they know that, more than a century later, this unique collection could be sold because of a loophole in pensions law. Once broken up, this priceless collection can never be put together again. It must be preserved forever, in North Staffordshire, the home of British pottery. Today we urge you and your Government to... Save the Wedgwood Collection! Yours sincerely, The People of North Staffordshire

■ ‘250 YEARS OF OUR HISTORY’: PAGE 6

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