A MAJOR management shake-up is on the cards for County Durham's railway museum after a report identified "confusion" and "operational difficulties" in its running.

A review of management structures and governance processes undertaken last year recommended a number of potential changes at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum, in Shildon, which attracts around 200,000 visitors a year.

Cabinet members on Durham County Council (DCC) will discuss the proposals to introduce new management arrangements next week which the authority says will enable the popular museum to develop and attract more visitors.

If agreed, operational responsibility for the site would be transferred to a single management structure under The Science Museum Group (SMG), which currently jointly manages Locomotion with DCC.

Cllr Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: "It is now clear that if the museum is to continue to grow and expand its audience, some changes are needed to the way in which it operates.

“The new arrangements we are proposing will enable this to happen while also ensuring that we are able to continue our direct involvement in the strategic management and governance of the museum.”

A report to the Cabinet states the current operational management structure is split between council employees and SMG employees which it says "has resulted in a number of operational difficulties".

The proposal is to move all 25 council employees - 13 permanent and 12 casual - under the management of SMG.

Changes to the running of the museum would also see the transfer of all land, buildings and structures to SMG, which would take over responsibility for the full maintenance of the site - with both organisations continuing to subsidise operational costs.

However, the council would undertake essential safety works to the Grade-I listed coal drops – which are currently in a state of disrepair – before transferring them to SMG.

The report states: "The estate at Locomotion is held under a mixed set of lease, ownership and management responsibilities.

"This creates confusion as to which organisation is responsible for the various elements of maintenance."

Proposals would also see some changes to the museum’s management board, with an SMG trustee taking up the role of chairman and one of the board’s three council representatives becoming vice-chair.

The authority would enter into a 25-year funding agreement with SMG, which would be reviewed every five years.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman said: “I think integrating Locomotion properly in The Science Museums Group will improve its efficiency and the offer it makes to local people.”

Cabinet meets at County Hall, in Durham City, on Wednesday, September 13.