CAMPAIGNERS bidding to have Swindon Museum and Art Gallery reopened packed out a council meeting to have their voices heard.

Swindon Borough Council's Conservative cabinet voted in favour of closing the gallery's current home at Apsley House and explore other options for displaying the art and exhibits on Wednesday night.

The move sparked an impassioned impromptu speech from one member of the public, Sandy Best.

As others made their way out of the meeting room Ms Best held up three T-shirts her children had decorated at arts and craft sessions at the museum before lockdown.

She said: “What about the kids? I’ve heard people tonight talk about the collection and putting it on display and making sure people can see it – but what about the children who need somewhere to go and something to do now? 

"My kids made these T-shirts at the museum, we need to think about what children need now and the damage done to them because they don’t have somewhere to go.”

Earlier cabinet member for culture and heritage Robert Jandy answered public questions and introduced a report which recommended keeping the Bath Road building shut and spending hundreds of thousands set aside for repairs to look at other ways of displaying the artefacts – including converting rooms at the civic offices in Euclid Street.

Although many in the public gallery feared this was the death knell for Apsley House as a venue, Coun Jandy said: “This is the start of the conversation. 

"We’ve been criticised for not having more details, costing and the like, but we can only get those if this report is approved so we can go out and get that information.

“If there are any issues, then this will come back to cabinet."

He added: “This is about making the collection accessible to more people than those who have currently been coming to the museum and gallery. It’s great to see  the passion for the arts in this room. 

"I want to involve the Friends of the Museum and Art Gallery in any discussions.”

Chairman of the friends Linda Kasmaty challenged the council’s view that Apsley House is not fit for purpose and will cost too much to repair. 

She asked whether the council’s surveys could be made available. The council’s legal officer Lisa Hall said she would look into the matter.

Labour Old Town councillor Jane Milner-Barry said the civic offices were not suitable for hosting an important art collection.

She said: “Look at these windows, single glazed, steel framed, some don’t open, some don’t shut.”

As he and his colleagues voted to approve the report Coun Brian Ford said: “I do have some concerns about this building as a venue. I’d like to see more on how we can make it more secure.”