THE head of a family history group has slammed proposed cuts to an archive centre.

East Sussex County Council has launched a consultation into into proposed changes to opening times at The Keep in Woolards Way.

The proposals mean public access to the historical resource centre would be reduced to half days on Thursdays and Saturdays. The Keep would remain open to the public between 10am and 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

But Mick Henry, chairman of the Sussex Family History Group, says proposed cuts would mean the facility is “not fit for purpose”.

He said: “This wonderful record office was opened by the Queen personally and yet now it is being pared away to nothing.

“You have people who come down to Sussex from all over just to do their research, but you cannot do as much in half a day. The footfall will be less as they have less to offer.

“You need to look after what you’ve got.”

The Keep, which is run as a partnership between East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and the University of Sussex, includes the East Sussex Record Office, The University of Sussex Special Collections and the Royal Pavilion and Museums Local History Collections.

Mr Henry fears reduced opening times will lead to further cuts at the centre, including to staff numbers, and says business rates – in the form of National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) - have “slowly reduced its effectiveness to work as a local service”.

He said: “The problem we have is that the county council has been massively underfunded for years.

“East Sussex charges Brighton for NNDR, whereas West Sussex County Record Office is not billed for it, which is tremendously unfair. It means the targets for The Keep are much more difficult to reach.

“It just seems like the council think this facility is a kind of business, which it is not. If we don’t halt these cuts we will lose a valuable resource not only for local records, but also for the many family historians who use The Keep on a daily basis.”

A spokesman for The Keep said: “The public sector remains under significant financial pressure and, as a result, The Keep partnership needs to find further savings.

“These are proposals for changes to the opening hours at The Keep and no decisions have been made.

“It’s important we take into account as many views as possible before making a final decision and would encourage people to take part in the public consultation.”

To have your say, visit the consultation online here