Information centres close doors

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A STRING of tourist information centres across the Yorkshire Dales have closed this year as tiny district councils in the north of the region rein in spending.

Centres in Richmond, Leyburn, Skipton and Thirsk have all been shut since April, with local authorities scrambling to find cheaper alternatives to fully-staffed tourism centres.

In Richmond and Leyburn, tourist information is now available in a bed-and-breakfast and a coffee shop instead. In Skipton, a new tourist information point has been set up within the town hall.

But in Thirsk, volunteers have set up their own properly-staffed tourist information centre in a refurbished toilet block in the market place – yet another example of Yorkshire’s communities fighting back against the cuts.

“I suppose the volunteers in Thirsk are an example of the Big Society in action,” said Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. “It’s great to see.

“These are tough times for local authorities and we do have some sympathy for them – though it’s important to remember how important tourism is to this region.”

One council which saved its centre from closure was North Lincolnshire. In a pattern repeated across the region wherever councils changed hands in the May local elections, the authority’s new leadership reversed unpopular plans to close the centre in Brigg.