Woodbridge: Chairman of Tide Mill trust criticises Suffolk Coastal District Council over plans to close tourist information centre

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to close an historic town’s tourist information centre (TIC) has come under fire from those at one of its most popular attractions.

Tony Hubbard, chairman of Woodbridge Tide Mill Trust, has criticised Suffolk Coastal District Council’s plans to close the current TIC at the railway station in November and run a smaller service at the library.

Last night bosses assured the new service will be manned – and not a leaflet point as some believe – and would be backed up by internet-based information.

In a letter to the EADT, Mr Hubbard said he was “dismayed” at the proposal of closing the TIC.

“Woodbridge is a premier tourist centre which is of all-year-round appeal and not limited to a summer season,” he said.

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“The present location of the office is at the heart of travel communications and for its purpose could not have a better situation. It can hardly be said that the library building would in any way match this.”

He said Suffolk Coastal’s assurance that tourism was a key part of the economy was hard to reconcile. “In view of our town’s key position within the tourist belt Woodbridge deserves better consideration,” his letter continued. “Furthermore it [the TIC] provides an invaluable facility for local residents to purchase train tickets in an otherwise unmanned station.

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“The centre does not, in the circumstances, seem a worthy candidate for a cost cutting exercise. It is the local taxpayers of Woodbridge who will suffer as well as the tourist industry, hardly giving us better value for money.”

Those behind the bid have defended the proposals saying more and more people are going on the internet to find information. They said both TICs in Felixstowe and Aldeburgh had recently undergone changes to save money and that a great deal of time at Woodbridge was spent selling railway tickets and providing transport information, which due to recent changes they could no longer afford to do.

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for leisure and economic development, said they would continue with a manned service. “Our commitment to encouraging tourism remains as strong as possible and our modernised service would see us still providing information from Woodbridge library, backed up with internet-based information,” he said. “The council’s other two TICs would continue to provide a full range of services including ticketing and booking facilities, and would offer telephone support and a postal service.

“Tourism remains key to our economy and we are confident visitors will continue to get the information they need.”

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