Playing safe with cases

NEW purpose-built display cabinets are to be installed in Morpeth Town Hall.

Morpeth Town Council has agreed to spend up to £3,000 on the cabinets for the Butter Market.

The stands, which will match the reception desk, will replace existing local history cases stocked by Morpeth Antiquarian Society.

Two small temporary cabinets, which were given to the Antiquarians by Morpeth Chantry, had to be removed as they did not meet health and safety requirements, and assessment results are awaited on the remaining two cases, which had been purchased by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust last year for an exhibition about Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison.

Concerns had been raised that visitors to the Town Hall could fall into the cabinets and injure themselves, particularly when the area is full of wedding guests. The safety issues were first reported to councillors at a meeting of the council’s Property and Asset Management Committee.

Chairman Andrew Tebbutt said: “This is something that we need to be very careful about otherwise we could find ourselves hit with a large insurance claim, it is a liability issue.

“The message that we need to send out to our partners is that anything that people want to put into any of our properties must be cleared by either the officers of the council or, in the case of certain items, by this committee.

“Our facilities are for public use and for a wide variety of public uses.

“We have a primary responsibility to make sure that all of our properties are as safe as we can make them.”

The council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee agreed last month that the authority should buy suitable cabinets using money from the Town Hall fund. Decisions on their use will be made at a later date.

Morpeth Antiquarian Society spokeswoman Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “Morpeth Antiquarian Society requested information in November from the town council about the safety assessment on various display cases and it is still awaiting detailed information in response.

“We were delighted to receive as a legacy of the Emily Davison Emily Inspires project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, the cases currently in the Butter Market. We are also grateful to Morpeth Chantry for the use of the temporary cases.

“We have always seen the Town Hall as a focus for Morpeth’s heritage and with other local relevant organisations working together as the Heritage Collection Steering Group, we already have formal agreements for that space to provide heritage displays telling aspects of Morpeth’s story to visitors and residents.”