September 17 2014 Latest news:
West Suffolk reporter
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
An award-winning Blue Badge guide has said St Edmundsbury Borough Council should reopen a closed tourist information centre.
Suze Bower, who is a Blue Badge London guide and regularly visits west Suffolk, said she was “incensed” about the borough council’s decision to shut the award-winning TIC in Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds.
This newspaper revealed last week that St Edmundsbury has still been paying rent on the ground-floor premises at a cost of £1,250 a month following the closure on June 1, and must continue to do so until it finds a replacement tenant. There are four years and nine months left on the lease.
Miss Bower, who has previously been Blue Badge guide of the year, said: “Put it back. Actually everybody you talk to wants it back.”
She feels the town with all it has to offer, such as the Abbey ruins, the Norman Tower and Moyse’s Hall Museum, deserved a better tourist information service than it currently has, and it needed to be on Angel Hill near the majority of the attractions and coach stops.
The main tourist information centre is now at the Apex -– in the new part of Bury -–while tourist information points are dotted around the town. This network of points has come in for criticism for being fragmented, not offering as good a service as the town previously had and there being insufficient signage. The timing of the closure of the TIC – at the start of the busy tourist season – has also been a sticking point for many people.
Miss Bower added: “Why close it this year when people are coming here for the Magna Carta [celebrations]?”
John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said tourism remained “extremely important” to the council. He said: “We are actually modernising and broadening the service while making savings. The fact is that TIC in Bury had seen a 40% drop in its footfall over the last two years and we reviewed things to see how best to deliver, and indeed improve, this vital service.
“As a result, the cathedral has already reported significant visitor numbers since becoming one of our new tourism points, as has Moyse’s Hall and the Apex.”