NEW arrangements for managing Devon's historical archives and local studies collections could be put in place, subject to consultation, according to Devon County Council.

The council has agreed in principle to form a new independent Heritage Trust and is asking people's views about the idea.

Currently the Devon Heritage Service looks after written and pictorial archives either owned by us or in our care, also those on behalf of Torbay Council.

A trust arrangement which is being developed in partnership with Somerset County Council would provide the professional expertise to manage and maintain the care of Devon's unique heritage collections in the future.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for the heritage service, Roger Croad says: "We feel that in the current economic climate, a new Heritage Trust is the way forward. Early financial modelling shows that the proposed model represents the best option for sustaining access to Devon's archives and unique heritage resources.

“There are also other advantages such as having greater eligibility for grant funding and greater partnership working across geographical and sector boundaries.

“We have already spoken to other interested parties and stakeholders to gauge how this might be received and, in general feedback was positive."A public meeting was held at the Devon Heritage Centre on 20 January to discuss the proposals and more such meetings are planned.