TORFAEN’S politicians have thrown their support behind the Pontypool Museum campaign to get 1,000 new members to sign up, calling it a “vital” part of the borough’s heritage.

Paul Murphy, MP, and Lynne Neagle, AM, have pledged to be part of fundraising efforts to secure the future of the institution, which needs to bridge a 20 per cent cut in its core budget, approved yesterday by Torfaen council as part of its 2014-15 budget.

It is estimated it will save the cash-strapped council around £19,000, but the museum desperately needs the help of local people to have a fighting chance of staying open, say museum staff.

Ms Neagle, who intends to raise the museum’s plight with Culture Minister John Griffiths, AM, said: “Pontypool Museum is a key part of our heritage here in the Eastern Valley and provides a valuable service for both local residents and visitors, young and old.”

Mr Murphy added: “Cuts from the Tory government in London mean that councils across Britain are being forced into reducing the amount of money they can give to cultural venues like museums, theatres and other voluntary groups. If they are to protect services like social care that are vital for vulnerable people, they have no alternative, whether they like it or not. That’s why it’s vital we work together to help bring more income into our museum, and why we pledge today to be a part of the fundraising efforts.”

A membership drive was launched on Saturday. The museum will have to start closing for a day over weekends unless it can make up the shortfall, said curator Deborah Wildgust.

A commemorative display of artefacts, photographs and medals from WWI went on display to kick-start the drive on the weekend, with visitor numbers said to be well above average, and several new members signing up.

“It’s so important that we remember our ancestors, such as Sergeant Cornelius Love, of Cwmbran, and William Jones, of Pontypool, who played such a central part in our local history,” Ms Wildgust added.

“By becoming a member, local people can ensure the collections stay right here in Torfaen for future generations and we can stay open several days a week.”

Membership fees are £15 per year, or £20 for a family. Business, institution, or club fees cost £60. Gift aiding is also available and gives the trust an extra 25p from the government for every £1 donated. Membership provides a range of benefits.

For details call into the museum, phone 01495 752036 or email