Jobs cut at historic hall to save £246k
DOZENS of jobs are to be cut at one of Staffordshire's most popular tourist attractions.
Thirty-four employees are to be made redundant at the Shugborough Estate, near Stafford.
The council attraction, which was running with a £1.4 million deficit last year, will also close on Tuesdays when the new season begins in March.
Staff were given the news yesterday and a four-week consultation period has now begun.
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The roles affected are all part-time, and the redundancies mean the total number of staff will be reduced from 66 to 32.
Council officials said the job losses form part of a restructure aimed at saving the historic estate, which includes a mansion house, museum and farm.
Shugborough, which attracts about 120,000 visitors a year, was expected to cost the taxpayer between £800,000 and £900,000 this financial year and the changes will reduce the burden by £246,000.
Pat Corfield, Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for culture and community, said: "Shugborough is one of our most treasured attractions and we want to ensure it continues to provide an exciting visitor experience for years to come. The estate is expensive to run and we need to make sure we are providing good value for money.
"We are committed to investing in the long-term future of Shugborough and the proposals we are putting forward will allow us to make the necessary savings without affecting the visitor experience.
"An exciting line up of events and attractions have already been confirmed for next year, including the world famous Moscow State Circus, the Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular picnic concert and a series of craft shows and theatre productions."
Mr Corfield also confirmed ticket prices will be frozen for the third year running. Entry is £12.50 for adults and £7.50 for children.
Mr Corfield said staff had known about the restructure for months, after an initial round of redundancies last October.
Staff will be invited to re-apply for a limited number of roles or take voluntary redundancy, although it is understood that it will not be possible for all staff to take the second option.
Other changes being implemented include making more use of volunteers.
And the introduction of guided tours in the mansion house will now be available between 11am and 1pm as opposed to stationed guides in each room.
The season will also be reduced by nine days, and the 'land train' will run only during weekends and school holidays.
Stafford's Conservative MP Jeremy Lefroy said: "This is disappointing news. But the main thing is that the council does everything it can to keep Shugborough open to the public. It's an important place and an asset to the region."