Last week I was reading a disturbing editorial in The Oxfordshire Local Historian complaining about the stop-go 'policy' for developing the local studies centre and record office in Oxford - the local studies centre being squeezed of staff and space to accommodate a building development that is unlikely to take place - and the record office's ideas for a combined local studies centre and record office on a new site having to be reduced drastically to a redesign of the current record office (in a former church) to accommodate both.
The editorial was expressing a deep-felt frustration about Oxfordshire services and there seemed to be something substantial to complain about. But in comparison with Bedfordshire, there's no cause for complaint.
I've been hearing about what sounds like indifference or ignorance in the 'support' given to Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service (BLARS) since the local government changes in the county twelve months ago. (Is it significant that the change was implemented on 1 April?) I hear that the service does not have a budget; that it has no strategic head for policy development; that it was not going to be able to re-apply for Charter Mark status.
I may have misunderstood the situation. I hope so. I'd like someone to explain what is happening.
BLARS is a jewel amongst county record offices and a Bedfordshire treasure that the three local authorities should be exploiting (in the best sense of the word) for the advantage of the county, all those who have an interest in its history and - not least - for the enhancement of their standing.