Newcastle Maritime Museum Society’s executive will push ahead with plans to hold an annual general meeting despite calls from Newcastle City Council for the organisation to be wound up.
The society announced in May that it was winding up with debts of close to $300,000. More than $144,000 of the debt is owed to two members and the former general manager.
Council chief executive Jeremy Bath made a public appeal to the society’s executive on Monday to follow through with their undertaking to wind-up the organisation in order to ensure the preservation of museum’s 7500 piece collection.
The executive proposed in May to sell items from the museum’s collection to pay the debts.
"As the trustee of the maritime museum's collection, council is responsible for disposing of items (whether by sale other otherwise). In disposing of items, council is committed to ensuring the disposal is in keeping with the museum's collection management policy and procedures,” Mr Bath said in a statement.
The policy states: Any monies received by the governing body from the disposal of objects should be applied solely for the upgrading of the collection either by purchase or by conservation.
"It is for this reason that City of Newcastle is calling on the board to abandon its seven month push to sell items of the collection.”
Mr Bath also called on the executive to abandon their personal claims on the museum.
“The City of Newcastle calls on the society to act to eliminate the risk that at some point a creditor will appoint a liquidator and a fire sale will send the collection into private hands,” he said.
The council, which has facilitated the storage of the collection, has proposed the collection be incorporated into the Newcastle Regional Museum’s collection.
Monday’s development follows a meeting of about 40 maritime museum members and supporters last month who want the society to remain an independent entity.
Restore Newcastle Maritime Museum working party spokesman Bob Cook told the Herald the wind-up meeting held in May had been unconstitutional because all of the organisation’s members had not been formally advised that it was occurring.
He said the society’s 50-odd members were in the process of being formally advised that an annual general meeting would be held on January 21.
The society’s current executive were not expected to seek re-election.
Mr Cook said he was confident the organisation’s new executive would deal effectively with the organisation’s debts.
"The society will deal with the debts one by one when we have paperwork relating to the validity of each debt,” he said.
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