South Tyneside Council owns almost £2million in artworks, new research published today shows.
An investigation by the TaxPayers’ Alliance has discovered that the authority currently possesses £1.9million worth of historical items such as paintings, sculptures and furniture.
At a time when we’re making necessary savings, it is only reasonable to ask whether some of the recent purchases represent value for taxpayers’ money.Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance
A total of 100 items make up the collection, with many on display at the borough’s museums and visitor attractions.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance is now calling on the cash-strapped council, which last month said up to 600 jobs could go in the next few years because of budget cuts, to “make an effort” to put more items on show, or look at selling some of the pieces to help with the running of services.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “No one is proposing a wholesale sell-off of art owned by the Government, but nonetheless, the scale of the collection is staggering.
“At a time when we’re making necessary savings, it is only reasonable to ask whether some of the recent purchases represent value for taxpayers’ money.”
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said: “More than £900,0000 worth of the council’s assets is public art on the Foreshore and at Littlehaven which is enjoyed by thousands of people each year. Most of the rest is civic regalia, much of which is usually on display in South Shields Town Hall and can be viewed by the public during tours.
“Other civic regalia connected with the Mayor’s duties can be seen when he carries out his official engagements.
“The remaining £27,000 of artwork can be seen by members of the public in South Tyneside, with much of it on view on a rotational basis at local museums.”