Battle of Britain Memorial centre faces funding change

Carol Vorderman at the BBMF EMN-161014-154210001
Carol Vorderman at the BBMF EMN-161014-154210001

The Coningsby-based Battle of Britain Memorial Flight could be one of seven sites across the county to be asked to ‘fund itself’ under new council plans.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive committee last week approved plans which affect funding for the tourist attractions it supports - like the BBMF.

However, the council stresses the proposals will allow those attractions to ‘keep everything they make’.

The county council is promoting this by saying it will ‘allow its heritage service to explore new ways to make money and sustain the service for the future’.

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for culture and heritage, said: “It’s an exciting time for the heritage service.

“This new way of working is more commercially savvy. It will mean more freedom to generate income and the ability to reinvest income back into heritage.

“The council’s budget position is not going to improve.

“We’ve got an estimated budget shortfall of £74m over the next three years, on top of the £145m we’ve cut from the budget since 2010.

“It’s right that the heritage service plays its part.

“By giving the heritage service a target to fund itself, we’re saving the taxpayer money and keeping the attractions open.”

Previously, money made by the attractions has gone back into the corporate pot and heritage has been given a budget from that.

The county council hopes the heritage service will fund itself by 2018.

The BBMF has not commented on the proposals although there have been claims that the council’s funding pro[posals could threaten the future of seven sites.

Since opening its doors in 1986, the BBMF has welcomed more than 300,000 visitors and is firmly established as one of the most popular visitor attractions in Lincolnshire. It is also seen as a major asset to the economy of Coningsby and surrounding villages.

The centre is billed as ‘a unique partnership between the RAF and the County Council’ and a feature are the historic aircraft housed in a hanger.

They include the iconic Lancaster bomber ‘Thumper’, a Spitfire. a Hurricane a Dakota and a Chipmunk.

Many of the aircraft feature in national displays and events, including the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations earlier this year.

The BBMF is widely acknowledged as a household name and a national institution.

Other sites affected by the County Council proposals include Gainsborough Old Hall and Lincoln Castle.