Town looks set to run tourist office

PUBLISHED: 12:50 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 18:00 31 May 2010

Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON

Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON

THE future of Saffron Walden s Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has been thrown into doubt after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) announced it is considering offloading the service. As part of wide-ranging saving measures proposed by the finance and admi

THE future of Saffron Walden's Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has been thrown into doubt after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) announced it is considering offloading the service.

As part of wide-ranging saving measures proposed by the finance and administration committee, the council is likely to stop offering its tourist information service at the end of the financial year.

The move should save UDC approximately £94,000 in the 2008/09 year, helping to rectify a hefty £1.8 million deficit.

But the move has been met with outcry from a vast number of groups and individuals.

Collette Biggs, chairman of the Town Twinning Association, said: "Uttlesford District Council's proposed withdrawal of funding from the Tourist Information Centre leading also to the serving of redundancy notices on the staff is truly shocking.

"The TIC and its staff provide the town, its residents and not least its many visitors with an efficient and vital service."

But committee chairman Cllr Robert Chambers moved to reassure people that the centre would not be closing.

He said: "I would like to spell out that this is not about Uttlesford District Council closing the TIC in Saffron Walden, but about the service being delivered in a different way.

"It is not uncommon for town or parish councils to run tourist information services, such as the TIC in Bishop's Stortford, and we are optimistic an agreement can be reached."

That agreement is the subject of extensive negotiations taking place between UDC and Saffron Walden Town Council, which is looking to take over the running

of the centre.

Town Cllr Keith Eden, chairman of the property and services committee, is optimistic that a solution will be reached.

He said: "We are currently working on a plan, which will probably be put to a council meeting on February 6, ensuring that the TIC will stay open and become the town council's responsibility.

"There are many issues and complications, but none of them are insurmountable and the town council is very keen to retain Saffron Walden's TIC."

There are two full-time and two part-time staff at the TIC, representing three of the 22 posts UDC announced it needs to cull at a meeting on January 15.

A final decision on the TIC and the other staff cuts will be made on January 31.

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