£75,000 staffing cuts dropped after councillors warned it could hamper Cambridgeshire work on historic child sexual abuse

 Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams.

Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Councillors rejected cutting £75,000 per year from staffing the county archives centre once it moves to Ely for fear it could jeopardise ongoing research into allegations of historic child sexual abuse.

The proposal to reduce staffing costs was put to the county council highways and infrastructure committee on Tuesday.

The council’s executive director Graham Hughes said after the meeting: “Councillors decided they didn’t want to make the saving.”

Officers had warned the committee that the ability to provide “timely responses to demands from statutory public inquiries” could no longer be guaranteed.

The report said: “For example, archives staff are currently engaged in major work to identify all the records we hold which are expected to be of interest to the Jay inquiry on historic child sexual abuse.

“This work is possible with the current staffing establishment but not on reduced levels of staffing.”

The independent inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay into child sexual abuse is investigating whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.

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The archives centre is due to move next year to the former Strikes Bowling Alley in the city.

Councillors were also warned on Tuesday that the £75,000 cut could cause reputational damage nationally with a diminution in service.

Also under threat would be the ability to open the new Ely centre on a daily basis and closures would be needed on a regular basis to clean, repackage and barcode records being moved from the Shire Hall basement to the Angel Drove site.

Councillors also opted to go ahead with a more expensive renovation of the bowling alley following reports that building standards could not be guaranteed within the previous budget.

There is also a possibility the county council may look to create a pay and display car park at the bowling alley to generate extra