Bath and North East Somerset Council is spending £150,000 a year to store Bath’s iconic Fashion Museum collection in a glove factory in Wiltshire.

The cost of storing the collection was revealed after a freedom of information request submitted by Emilio Pimentel-Reid, a Conservative candidate in the upcoming local elections who is standing in Bath’s Lansdown ward with his husband.

Mr Pimentel-Reid said: “In hearing the council’s plans to spend £34m of our money on the fashion museum, I feel anyone sensible should be asking questions because it's our money and its a lot of money.”

After the National Trust took back the museum’s old home in Bath’s Assembly Rooms last year, the council plans to turn the Old Post Office on New Bond Street into a new museum and work with Bath Spa University to set up a collection archive at Locksbrook.

But the plans were set back when the council’s bid for £20m from the Levelling Up Fund failed. It is set to be years before the new facilities are ready.

Mr Pimentel-Reid said: “The collection is sofa surfing at the moment. It doesn’t have a new home.”

He added: “This was an asset that presumably at some point was making some money — and now its costing money.”

The internationally important collection is currently being stored in the headquarters of luxury glove makers Dents in Warminster — at a cost of £150,000 a year. This is a combined cost of £135,000 a year in rent and £15,000 a year on management costs such as pest control.

Mr Pimentel-Reid’s freedom of information request also revealed that only £600,000 had been secured for the museum so far, and that the agreement with Bath Spa University was being worked on but that the university had not made any commitment to invest yet.

He said: “If you have £600,000 for a project that will cost £34m, there is no project yet.”

He wants the council to find temporary spaces in Bath to put on displays while the city is waiting for the Old Post Office to be redeveloped.

The council candidate also believes that the governance of the museum should be reformed with a board of trustees connected to the fashion industry, a patrons group who regularly donate, and an advisory board. He said: “We need to have partnerships with credible fashion businesses for this museum to actually make sense.”

He said: “I believe that residents, the staff, and the collection itself are being let down by this Liberal Democrat administration.”

He added that the council’s ambition for Bath to become Europe’s new fashion capital was “ludicrous.”

Mr Pimentel-Reid said: “Let’s be realistic, so it could be that the museum would be a leading British centre for costume research.”

But he added: “It's not going to be Paris or Milan.”

But council leader Kevin Guy defended the spending and the council’s approach to the fashion museum.

He said: “The Bath Fashion Museum collection is irreplaceable and is made up of over 100,000 artefacts, ranging from gloves from the time of Shakespeare to pieces by today’s leading designers. Given the size of the collection and the fragility of many of the items, it’s essential that the temporary storage is conservation grade and has high levels of security. I don’t think any sensible person would want to skimp on these standards or put the collection at risk. 

“We are very pleased to have secured space at a facility which meets these high-spec standards and provides working space for the curatorial team. For the long-term, we are partnering with Bath Spa University to create a collection archive in Locksbrook, which will provide safe storage for those items not on display and will be accessible to the public.

“We have also secured a new home for the fashion museum at The Old Post Office in the city centre. This will be a fabulous asset for our city and will enable a wider range of people to access and engage with the collection in a more modern, prominent, and flexible location. 

“In the meantime, pieces from the collection will continue to be loaned to museums around the world, as has been the case for many years. In addition, we have given the go ahead for temporary uses of the Old Post Office block, which will raise revenue and offer activation opportunities for local organisations.

“The council has received grant funding to develop the full vision, business case and funding strategy for the museum over the coming financial year. And we have an experienced and visionary team in heritage services who will draw on their solid track record of raising capital funding and delivering major capital projects. The team will launch an independent fashion museum charity later this year.”

Mr Guy added: “When the fashion museum reopens in the Old Post Office, it will be more accessible, engage with a wider range of people, and tell a greater range of stories than ever before. There will be economic and societal benefits for the wider community as well as a keystone to help transform the Milsom Quarter area of Bath.

“We are the custodians of a world-class collection, so I make no apologies for being ambitious for the new fashion museum and indeed ambitious for Bath’s place on the world stage.”

Mr Pimentel-Reid said: “At the end of the day, all I want is a good fashion museum that we can all enjoy and isn’t stuck in a factory in Warminster.”