NEWS the museum’s opening hours will not be reduced is cause for celebration, says the Swindon institution’s supporter group.

Budget proposals published by Swindon Borough Council in December suggested the Bath Road museum and art gallery’s hours could be cut in an attempt to make £20,000 in savings.

But that plan appears to have been ditched. Rather than reduce opening hours, museum bosses have been asked to make day-to-day savings and bring in more income.

Linda Kasmaty, chairman of the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, said: “We ought to be celebrating this. We want to encourage people to visit and see how fantastic this museum is.”

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s hours were reduced by 90 minutes a day last summer. It came after a £12m Heritage Lottery Fund bid for a new gallery building failed in May.

“We were very worried the opening hours would be reduced again. As soon as the HLF bid failed the first thing the council did was reduce the opening hours,” Ms Kasmaty said.

“I thought it would be death by slow strangulation.

“I think they were ever so excited about the thought of a new museum and art gallery. If only they came her a bit more often they’d see what a fabulous place it is and what brilliant stuff goes on here.”

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet is expected to next month discuss the museum’s future. It comes after a long consultation over where a new gallery could be situated.

Dale Heenan, cabinet member for the town centre, said he had positive plans for the gallery: “Art should be seen, not locked up in storage, and I believe every child should have the opportunity while they are at school to view Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s artefacts and exhibits.”

However, the museum would be expected to follow the lead of Lydiard Park and the Steam Museum in breaking even.

“Change is difficult, but it must happen for the museum and art gallery to improve and thrive,” he said.“In previous years, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has had a protected budget and been asked to make no savings. This year staff were asked to find £20,000.

“I am very pleased with how they have risen to the challenge so instead of reducing opening hours to save the money, they have come forward with alternative realistic proposals that include savings that don’t affect opening hours, and new ways of making money. It’s a step in the right direction.”