Duff House to be discussed

Proposals to transfer the management of Banff attraction, Duff House, and its staff to Historic Scotland are to be considered by councillors this week.

The move comes after months of discussions among partners involved in the facility concerning the future operation of the venue.

The historic building was designed by Scottish architect William Adam in 1735. It has operated as a visitor attraction since 1992 under a partnership between Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Aberdeenshire Council is currently responsible for funding the operation of Duff House, including staffing, administration, utilities and some grounds maintenance costs. Funding for the venue was reduced by a third as part of budget reductions for visitor attractions agreed in March last year. In order to achieve the savings, a number of measures were proposed, including a move to seasonal opening that would limit access to the facility during the winter.

Ongoing discussions have led to proposals for a change in emphasis for all partners, with building owners Historic Scotland taking over the running of the facility, including staffing and opening responsibilities.

Aberdeenshire Council’s role would still be significant, with substantial funding and through the work of council officers to ensure local links to cultural, educational and arts provision in the area continue.

A report to go before the Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday says the change in operation would provide access to the wider skills and resources of staff within Historic Scotland and support further discussion about opening times.

It adds the National Galleries of Scotland is supportive of the change in operational lead and would continue to be involved in the development of a new agreement for the venue.

If the proposals are supported by councillors, Historic Scotland would take on the running of Duff House from April with staff being supported through the changeover. The committee will be asked to note the outcome of the discussions to transfer management of the facility and the proposal to develop a revised partnership agreement, and agree to the transfer of staff following negotiations.

A progress report is to be brought back before the committee before the summer, subject to the proposals being supported.