Battle to save tourist centre

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THE fight is on to save the axe-threatened Fenland Tourist Information Centres (TICs) following a meeting in Wisbech this week.

Called by Wisbech Tourism Group and the Wisbech Society the meeting was attended by representatives of around 30 organisations with an interest in tourism.

Wisbech Society Chairman Brian Payne chaired the meeting at the Octavia Hill Birthplace House on Wednesday night.

Discussions revolved around Fenland Council’s plans to withdraw the services provided by the Tourist Information Centre in its present form and to replace it with a website.

Five years ago the district council made a similar proposal and a successful campaign was launched opposing the move to close the Tourist Information Centre.

Mr Payne told Wednesday’s meeting: “I am sure that everyone would agree that the TIC in Wisbech is one of the most professional and successful resources in the whole of the Fens. One only has to sit on a nearby chair to witness the breadth and sometimes complexities, of the inquiries the staff have to deal with.”

He said the campaigners were equally concerned about the loss of the TICs in the other Fenland towns but pointed out the Wisbech centre is the most important as it filters information to the others and also disperses information about Wisbech and the Fens throughout the UK.

Mr Payne said over two million people visit the Fens each year, generating £1.5m for the local economy adding: “So, I would suggest that we make it clear beyond any doubt that we wish to retain the TIC operation as it is, and not to be condensed onto a faceless website, which will only be available to a percentage of the population.”

The meeting ended with everyone agreeing to apply pressure on Fenland Council to delay making a decision on the closure and the resulting staff redundancies until after the May local elections.

They also want election candidates to support the retention of the TIC in its present form and called upon Wisbech Town Council to add their support too.