CONTROVERSIAL plans to cut the county's archive budget by more than half have been scrapped by the council.

Worcestershire County Council was accused of "historical vandalism" after it announced last year its plan to slash the county's archive and archaeological services budget from £700,000 to £295,000 but those plans now seem to have been abandoned.

But the county council said it still plans to cut the archive's budget by £250,000 next year.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, leader of the council, admitted the cut was "too high" and said the council had rethought its plans after listening to the public.

The move was also criticised by the Bishop of Worcester during a speech in the House of Lords.

Speaking before the budget change was announced, the Right Reverend Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester said the cuts would be a “major reputational and cultural loss” and he hoped county councillors would reject the cuts.

Bishop John said: “Some might not consider an archive service to be an essential service, but I would beg to differ.

“It matters, as the British Archaeology News Resource puts it, because of the possible irretrievable loss of hundreds of years of dedication and expertise.

“The history of a place isn’t in the cold dead stones, or the reams of paper in an archive.

“It’s in the people that care for them, know the records intimately, and pass on that passion and knowledge to others.

“It’s in the people who bring those stones, those manuscripts to life. Lose them, and you lose the history. And, now more than ever, we need the lessons of history.”

The archive and archaeological budget was cut from £1.2 million in 2010 to its current budget of £700,000.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said: "We listened to all the feedback from the budget consultation and decided to make a £155,000 reduction in the savings proposed from the archives budget. The exact detail around this is yet to be decided.

"We're still consulting with staff who work in the service before the final budget is set in February."