Temporary homes for tourism services

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Temporary homes have been found for tourist information services in the heart of the Dales during the busy Easter period after an operator pulled out.

Two years ago Richmondshire District Council controversially pulled the plug on £130,000 funding for tourist information centres in Richmond and Leyburn, saying it was replacing them with tourist information points which would be run by other organisations.

Richmond’s Tourist Information Centre, based in Friary Gardens, shut its doors earlier this month after the Richmondshire Leisure Trust (RLT) announced it did not wish to continue to run it.

The decision left the area without a centre in the run-up to Easter. The visitor industry is worth £184m a year to Richmondshire’s economy

Bosses at the local authority pledged a temporary arrangement would be put in place – something the authority confirmed this week has now been achieved.

Last night a council spokeswoman said: “Three places in Richmond have agreed to be temporary tourist information centres and people will be able to get information at Richmond Station, Richmond Castle and The Georgian Theatre Royal.

“We would expect to see an influx of visitors into Richmond and Richmondshire into the Easter weekend and it’s important we are providing a service for them.”

The tourism industry in the region supports 4,500 jobs during the peak season.

The RLT was awarded the contract after an open tender offer and took over the centre last July, leasing the building from the district council and using volunteers for its day-to-day operation.

It was established by Richmondshire District Council in 2005 for the long-term management of Richmond Swimming Pool. It also manages Colburn Leisure Centre and Liberty Health Club.

Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, has previously said he expected to see a new operator in place no later than the spring bank holiday in May.