Conservative councillors are calling for Bath and North East Somerset residents to be given discounted entry to Victoria Art Gallery when the Council introduces new charges later this year.
The calls come after plans to charge visitors for entry into the temporary exhibitions at the gallery were agreed by the Liberal Democrat-run authority at the Council’s annual budget meeting in February.
Conservative councillors had tabled proposals to keep the gallery free to local residents by adding an additional £1 to the price of the combined Roman Baths and Fashion Museum visitor ticket. However, this proposal was rejected by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.
Now, Conservative councillors are calling on the Council to introduce a discounted yearly or season pass for B&NES Discover Card holders as a compromise measure. Conservatives have argued that local residents already support the gallery through their Council Tax and so should not be subject to the same fees as visitors to the area. An online petition by the Conservatives calling for the gallery to remain free to B&NES residents collected over five hundred signatures.
Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Cons, Lansdown) has led the campaign. He said:
“We’re obviously very disappointed that B&NES is pressing ahead with plans to bring in charges at the Victoria Art Gallery. We feel this is unfair on residents who already support the gallery through their Council Tax, and are concerned that entry fees will actually hit revenue from donations and sales of artworks.
“At the very least we believe that local residents should be allowed discounted entry to the touring exhibitions at the gallery. We know the Council is already planning an annual pass for the gallery, but we believe B&NES residents should be able to purchase this at a lower rate than visitors.
“If Discovery Card holders are able to purchase a discounted pass then this could also help bolster revenue from art sales. I have written to the Cabinet Member with this idea and hope the council will consider this proposal carefully.”