UNISON warns that shutting tourist centre means Ipswich is closed

PUBLISHED: 18:59 13 July 2020

The Tourist Information Centre in St Stephen's Church will not reopen after the lockdown. Picture: JOHN NORMAN

The Tourist Information Centre in St Stephen's Church will not reopen after the lockdown. Picture: JOHN NORMAN


Ipswich council risks giving a signal that the town is closed for business if it goes ahead with closing the Tourist Information Centre in St Stephen’s church, the union representing staff working there has warned.

UNISON warned that cutting the six jobs there as part of the cost-cutting measures to close a £10m deficit would damage tourism and small businesses in the are.

It is urging the council’s executive to delay its decision until after a consultation — and use the consultation to properly look at the value the Tourist Information Centre brings to the town and seek wider funding for the service.

MORE: Tourist centre to shut in cash crisis

UNISON Ipswich branch secretary David Rowe said: “Councils across the UK are facing unprecedented financial shortages and it’s up to ministers to plug the gap so our communities don’t face ruin.

“But at a time when we’ll all need to work hard together to recover from this crisis, it’s completely wrong for the Council to tell the world that Ipswich is closed for business.

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“Healthy high streets and public services will be vital to recovery across the whole of Suffolk. Far from turning our back on visitors, we should be strengthening our Tourist Information team to showcase what Ipswich and Suffolk have to offer.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said Tuesday’s meeting would launch the consultation into the proposed closure which would continue until the full meeting of the authority at the end of the month.

Its closure would save £160,000 a year which would be a significant saving as the council tried to close the gap caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile Mr Ellesmere defended the council’s policy of borrowing money from the Public Works Loans Board to allow Ipswich Borough Assets to invest in property to provide it with an income.

MORE: Borough defends investment strategy

As the government looks at whether to prevent councils from borrowing for this, he said: “We remain confident that our investments will continue to pay a very good income to the council – and that they will continue to do well for us into the future.”

The latest purchase by IBA is the former Toys R Us store on the Interchange Retail Park at Copdock Mill and officials are already in discussions with possible tenants and hope to have an occupier lined up very soon.

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