Council u-turn on provision of tourism service

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Whitby’s tourist information centre has been given a temporary reprieve after the borough council appeared to do u-turn over closure plans.

A decision taken by Cabinet last month to market the lease for the building and re-locate and reduce services was called in by councillors and re-examined at a scrutiny meeting on Tuesday.

After a two and a half hour debate, a revised set of recommendations put forward by Cllr Jane Mortimer (Fylingdales ward) and Cllr Rob Barnett (Streonshalh) were amalgamated and unanimously agreed by members of the health and well being scrutiny committee.

They will effectively see the leases for the Whitby and Scarborough centres be marketed on the condition that part of the buildings will be retained and provide manned tourist information and Customer First services.

But, the recommendations will have to go before the Cabinet once again to be rubber-stamped.

Cllr David Jeffels who chaired the meeting said: “There has been a lot of criticism about lack of consultation but what we have achieved in two and a half hours has gone a long way to addressing that situation.”

Several speakers including Whitby’s local councillors and members of the public spoke at the meeting and lack of public consultation was a major concern along with potentially adverse effect on tourism as the town’s main source of economy.

Charles Forgan from the Captain Cook Museum said: “In this last decade, despite the recession employment in Whitby in tourism has increased by 40%.

“The report to Cabinet contained no such information mation. “ Rob Sim from the Staithes Business and Tourism Group+ said: “We have been completely left out of the loop. The outlying regions have had no knowledge of what is going on.

“The TIC is more important for us than Whitby. People are already going to Whitby, they find out about places like us through the TIC.”

Cllr Vanda Inman said the TICs should not be treated the same for each town because the needs are different.

“We have three areas that have been considered as one item but I would suggest that each of these areas should be considered individually.

“Filey has already applied for a community asset transfer and Whitby would be looking to put together a bid. An extension of time is needed.”

After the decision Whitby Town Councillor, John Freeman thanked the committee for giving the town time to put together proposals for the future of the building.