Row over gallery hours

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LABOUR councillors have been criticised for only partially-restoring hours for Sheffield’s museums and art galleries.

The new council administration has restored £80,000 to the annual budget for Museums Sheffield, the trust that runs Grave Art Gallery, the Millennium Gallery and Weston Park Museum.

The extra cash will allow Graves to open for an extra day but it will remain shut from Sundays to Tuesdays.

Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, had made an unspecified commitment to ‘restore funding’ to the gallery.

Lib Dem opposition leader, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said: “Before and after the election Coun Dore gave a personal assurance they would restore all the opening hours at Graves Art Gallery.

“Labour have only been in control for a matter of weeks but they are already breaking promises.

Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, cabinet member for cultural facilities, said: “First the Lib Dems slash opening hours at Sheffield’s much-loved museums and galleries and then when Labour announce we are restoring funding to allow 30 extra hours a week of public access to the galleries, the Lib Dems call foul. This is simply outrageous and the Lib Dems should be ashamed of themselves.”

When the budget was set in March 2011 Labour pledged to restore funding to ensure Graves Art Gallery would not close.

But after it was announced Graves Art Gallery would shut, the Lib Dems bowed to public pressure and renegotiated with Museums Sheffield to stop it happening.

When Labour won the election Coun Dore said she would look into restoring the opening hours at Graves Art Gallery and found it would cost £66,000.

After negotiations, it was agreed the council would give the trust an extra £80,000.