TRADE union bosses have revealed they raised concerns about the financial stability of Hampshire Cultural Trust when council workers first joined the charity.

It comes as the organisation has just finished consulting staff over job loses following a reduction in local authority grant money.

A number of staff at Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT), which manages museums and culturally important artifacts on behalf of both Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Winchester City Council (WCC), have left the organisation voluntarily as part of the process.

Union representatives added that there were no compulsory redundancies and that they felt the consultation process was “properly adhered to”.

HCT could not confirm the exact number of staff who had left yet as the recruitment process for newly formed positions is still ongoing.

Speaking about his concerns, David Anderson, branch secretary at Hampshire Unison, said: “The vast majority of employees were employed by HCC when the trust was first set up.

“The proposals were to move from HCC contracts to HCT contracts. Obviously a lot of our members were concerned about that.

“I advised that there was a pitfall because they were very reliant on income generation from outside sources. A lot of funding came from Heritage Lottery grants. It is our understanding that that money has dried up now.

“I did raise concerns at the time.”

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As previously reported, Southampton City Council (SCC) decline to integrate with HCT in 2016 as they felt grant predictions were ‘too ambitious and risky’ to attract support.

A report detailing the minutes of SCC’s Chipperfield Advisory Committee heard that the city council would face additional costs for the first four years if the decision was made to integrate with the trust, at meeting held in July 2016.

The committee also heard that “highly ambitious” trust forecasts would increase the risk “to both Hampshire Cultural Trust and Southampton City Council.

“Southampton City Council retained property and landlord risk as a result of Hampshire Cultural Trust tenancy.”

Responding the current situation, SCC’s cabinet member for communities, culture and leisure Cllr Satvir Kaur said: “It was my decision not to integrate, and those were (still are) my views.

“It is never nice seeing an organisation struggling financially. SCC has faced over £100million worth of cuts from central government so I am very empathetic. As a council we still have a working relationship with HCT.

“However, we have high aspirations for our museums, especially our internationally renowned art collection, which can be difficult to sustain in such a financially challenging environment; unfortunately we did not feel HCT had a strong enough business model to deliver this for us at the time.

“I absolutely believe that we made the right decision for this service and our city.”

Responding to the claims, a HCT spokeswoman said: “HCT have had no issues with unions since the trust was launched in November 2014.

“We have a number of current, ongoing projects with Heritage Lottery funding which support our work with communities across Hampshire and we plan to secure further funding in the future.”