Tourist centres to shut in two of Suffolk’s most popular visitor hotspots

The Stowarket tourist information centre is in the entrance to the Museum of East Anglian Life. Pict

The Stowarket tourist information centre is in the entrance to the Museum of East Anglian Life. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Tourist Information Centres in two of Suffolk’s most popular honeypots are to close at the end of the year as councils look to save money.

The centres at Lavenham, in Babergh district, and at the Museum of East Anglia Life in Stowmarket in Mid Suffolk are to shut down at the end of September, after the main tourist season ends.

The two councils say they are looking for other ways of running the tourist service – possibly using volunteers or finding other ways of getting the tourist message across.

Four people are employed at the Lavernham TIC and five at Stowmarket.

The closures were agreed at a cabinet meeting of the two authorities in a closed section of the meeting without press or public.

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A spokesman for the councils said there had not been any publicity about the closure plans because the authorities were anxious not to give the impression that they were shutting during this year’s tourist season.

Babergh leader John Ward said: “There’s a lot to see and do in Babergh, from our beautiful countryside and heritage buildings to our leisure offer, artist trails and silk and wool town connections. We want to work with others about how best to tell visitors about all that is on offer.

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“We’ve got to ask whether a fixed TIC in Lavenham meets the changing needs of our visitors or whether there are other options that will better help visitors get the most out of their trip and stay.”

Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk’s Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “Our district has a lot to offer and we know how important tourism is to our economy. We need to make sure that visitors to our area have access to the information they need and in the way they want to access it, and that means us stepping back and working differently on tourism matters.”

However the closure plans did not impress opposition councillors. Independent Richard Kemp represents Long Melford, another tourist hotspot, on Babergh and Suffolk County Council.

He said: “Tourism is very important for Suffolk – we get about 70% of our income from tourism. This makes no sense, you have to spend a little to get develop such an important business.”

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