Agenda item

Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements the Chairman may wish to make.


The Chairman was pleased to announce that in November, the County Council signed a five year contract with Ancestry to digitise 500 years of archive records relating to family history to include parish registers and probate records dating from 1536 to 1921.  It was highlighted that Ancestry, as a global leader in family history, will make the records available online to those that want to research their family history.  As part of the agreement, access to the Ancestry website will be made available free of charge to Hampshire libraries and at the Record office during January.  Three Ancestry operatives will be based at Hampshire Record Office for around a year to digitise the archive records and the first tranche of probate records is likely to be made available online during the summer 2022.  The agreement with Ancestry will pay royalties to the County Council for public access to the online records and is estimated to generate over £10k per year which will contribute to the SP23 savings for the Archive Service.


The Chairman sadly announced the death of Julie Chambers, Strategic Manager for Trading Standards who passed away peacefully on the morning of the 20 December following a short illness.  Julie’s contribution to the County Council, through her 33 years of service in Trading Standards, was considerable, and her legacy would be lasting.  Julie would be remembered for her immense knowledge of Trading Standards, her unfaltering commitment to supporting her team to develop their careers in the service and her ability to always find time for people despite her busy leadership role.  On behalf of the Culture and Communities Select Committee the Chairman extended his condolences to Julie’s family.


The Chairman highlighted that at Christmas, for the first time, Staunton Farm, hosted an outdoor light trail called ‘Enlightened’ in partnership with The Colour Project.  This was an evening event, in addition to the Farm’s normal activities, which ran throughout December and into January.  The Chairman was pleased to announce that Enlightened received extremely positive reviews from visitors and sold over 25,000 tickets, which has generated over £40,000 additional income for the Countryside Service.  The event was managed very professionally and ensured no disruption to Staunton's usual activities during the day and was a great example of extending the use of County Council sites to expand the offer for customers.  The Chairman hoped that Members of the Select Committee who were able to attend enjoyed their visit.


The Chairman also highlighted that following several technical issues beyond the County Council’s control, the Hantsweb Shop was unavailable from Christmas Eve. It was heard that this affected advance booking of tickets online and other services such as the purchase of season tickets and memberships.  It was noted that the County Council was currently assessing the impact across the Services, but the impact did seem to be minimal with most online sales taking place before Christmas.  The Chairman informed Members that IT colleagues worked closely with Services over the festive season to develop an alternative to Hantsweb shop called Shopify which went live on Monday 10 January, and the Chairman extended his thanks to all the staff involved in trying to resolve this issue over the festive season.