Woodbridge: Controversial TIC move continues to cause concern

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to relocate a town’s tourist information centre (TIC) will be decided by senior councillors amid fierce concerns the move will harm the local economy.

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinet will discuss the plans for Woodbridge TIC on November 6. The authority wants to move the service from its current location at the railway station to the town’s library as it looks to save money in the face of Government cuts. Although the centre would still be manned it will no longer sell rail tickets and there will be a greater emphasis on internet based information.

The move has caused serious concerns in Woodbridge and at a meeting of the town council on Tuesday night people turned out to make their feelings known.

Vanessa Gregory, who runs a B&B in the town, said: “There are many people who are not comfortable booking accommodation online, who don’t have access to a computer or want to speak to somebody. Many visitors to Woodbridge are of the older generation - we get 70% of our bookings from the TIC. The library is difficult to see and I’m concerned that people will just give up and go and stay somewhere else. It’s not just accommodation providers - the cafes, restaurants and shops will also suffer.”

Her comments were echoed by others in the public gallery, while town councillors also expressed serious concerns. Mayor Charles Notcutt acknowledged the strength of feeling and it was agreed for the town council to set up a working group to push the district council for more figures over usage.

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Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member for leisure and economic development, who also sits on the town council, denied Woodbridge was being unfairly treated as TICs in Felixstowe and Aldeburgh had made recent changes.

He said figures showed that use of the TIC for accommodation bookings was “negligible” and that for every rail ticket sold the authority lost �1. “Our aim is to make sure all our services are efficient and relevant, and the reality is that more people are going online for their information and fewer are visiting our TICs,” he said. “Our commitment to encouraging tourism remains strong but so is our drive for value for money.”

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