Agenda item

Denbighshire and Flintshire Joint Archive Project


That the Committee supports the new service delivery model that will:


(a)     Create a single shared and sustainable Archive Service with Denbighshire County Council

(b)      Provide a ‘state of the art’ Archive building, co-located with Theatr Clwyd, with an extensive digital archive network across both counties and an innovative public engagement and support programme.



            The Chief Officer introduced Helen Vaughan-Evans (the Joint Project Manager) and Flintshire’s Principal Archivist who would present the report outlining a plan to ensure Flintshire and Denbighshire’s Archives Services had a robust future to carry out their statutory obligations. 


            The Project Manager thanked Members for the opportunity to address them and explained that this was a joint project between Flintshire and Denbighshire. During the presentation she would be highlighting the challenges faced by both Councils and the ways these were trying to be resolved.  The presentation covered:-


  • The opportunity we were trying to capture
  • The ambition we were trying to reach
  • There were 3 elements to this project
  • What could it cost
  • When would it happen
  • What would Flintshire get specifically
  • What happens if we don’t deliver this project


            Councillor Geoff Collett supported this project but queried the cost apportionment.  The Leader explained that costs were based on the population size of both counties, similar to how it worked for GwE. The Project Manager added significant research had been undertaken and that the fairest way to approach this was the population size from the census.  With regard to the second point she confirmed all future running and IT costs would be split this way.  


            Councillor Tudor Jones supported the proposals and asked questions on the split of the National Lottery Heritage funding, the Library proposals digital outreach and whether consideration had been given to incorporating a much needed museum for Mold which would attract more visitors to the town.


            The Project Manager responded that the match funding was a 60 – 40 split with Denbighshire putting in £2m and Flintshire £3m. The National Lottery Heritage Funding would provide 70% of the project costs with the remaining 30%- Flintshire putting in 60% and Denbighshire 40%. The design would include an exhibition space to exhibit local and national treasures. Security to loan these valuable treasures had also been factored in.  There would be access provision within each library but if there were changes, such provision could be moved to another location within that area. This would also increase the footfall within the libraries.


            With regard to Digitalisation of materials, this was constantly changing and the focus was on the customer.  Accessibility from home was beneficial but there would also need to be a research aspect as records in the future were more likely to be digital media rather than books, so this had been factored in to the plan.


            Councillor Jones asked if training would be provided to Members to ensure records were preserved digitally in the future and referred to a group he was involved with where records were only kept on disc.  The Principal Archivist confirmed the preservation of digital records was being considered and reported on a Wales wide Digital Working Group which was close to finalising a national storage facility.  Advice could be given to record creators such as local groups, Town and Community councils etc. and digital archives could be saved in most formats. 


            The Chair asked whether community provided former Council libraries such as Mancot or Mynydd Isa would be outside the system. The Project Manager confirmed many communities could link into the outreach provision the project would put in place. Once the funding was finalised then consultation would take place to ascertain what communities wanted from this service.  The National Lottery Heritage funding would create posts for those officers to go out, develop and create activities within communities.


            Mr Hytch asked what ‘Passivhaus’ meant and whether it would it be linked to the Theatr.  He also asked why the Council currently had to use commercial storage.


            The Leader explained that Passivhaus technology was designed to keep the building at a constant temperature and thus keep costs down.  This model was chosen following a number of site visits to similar facilities.  It was hoped to have a link to the Theatr providing customers with access the shop and café there. The Principal Archivist explained that the Council had to comply with a stringent range of conditions for storage of archives, including security. The council did not have another building that could be used.  She provided information on the current storage arrangements.   The Project Manager explained how this project could dovetail with the Theatre’s development and that they were working closely together.


            Councillor Patrick Heesom acknowledged the aspirational project and agreed that the building in Hawarden was not fit for purpose but said so much information could now be accessed digitally.  He had concerns on the location and felt the process of archiving materials and ensuring people could access that information should be the focus.


            The Leader responded that the Council had a legal duty to provide safe and secure storage for Flintshire’s heritage; bringing the two councils’ archives services together had been a significant amount of work but that neither buildings were fit for purpose.  When the new building was completed the council still had the asset of the Old Rectory in Hawarden and discussions for its future use were taking place.  The Chief Officer had held discussions with Gladstone’s Library to ensure that a presence was kept in Hawarden.  With regard to the Digital, it was hoped all libraries, schools and colleges could access this. 


            Cllr Heesom clarified he was not against this project but that it needed to be accessible, working and at the right price.  The Leader reiterated that this was a temperature and humidity controlled archive storage facility with capacity for future needs.

            Councillor Ian Smith fully supported the proposals.  He referred to digital preservation of documents and asked if they were saved in different formats as technology moved so fast sometimes these documents were very hard to read. The Principal Archivist confirmed they had accepted archive material in a number of different formats.  Several copies had been saved on the Council’s network and externally 


            Cllr. Tudor Jones asked whether this Council provided archive would be linked to the Council’s internet and thus accessible by children in schools. The Principal Archivist responded that they were currently at creating joint archive website for the two services which would not wait for the new building and would happen next year.


            Councillor Janet Axworthy thought this was an exciting investment potential for the future.  Shared services were the way forward and key to procuring as much investment as possible to ensure access and preservation of these original documents was fundamental.  Staffing numbers had dwindled over the years and she felt the use of apprenticeships were vital to ensure those skill were not lost.

The Chair thanked the Project Manager and Principal Archivist for their attendance today.


The resolution was moved by Councillor Kevin Hughes and seconded by Councillor Gladys Healey




That the Committee supports the new service delivery model that will:


(a)     Create a single shared and sustainable Archive Service with Denbighshire County Council

(b)      Provide a ‘state of the art’ Archive building, co-located with Theatr Clwyd, with an extensive digital archive network across both counties and an innovative public engagement and support programme.


Supporting documents: