A GROUP of Whitby residents have launched a campaign against the closure of the seaside town’s current tourist information centre - saying it represents the “final straw” for local people.
Scarborough Borough Council first proposed closing the Whitby Tourist Information Centre (TIC) in November 2015.
It said the changing way in which people plan and book their trips to the area, with an increased reliance on the internet, and a reduction in visitor numbers to the centre, meant it could no longer afford to run the TIC, which is used by around half a million people a year. Despite local opposition, the council’s cabinet decided in February to market the leasehold - but said it would seek to find a home for a TIC facility either within the existing building, should the new leaseholder agree, or relocate.
But campaigners say the alternatives are “wholly inadequate” and point out that poor mobile phone coverage in Whitby and Staithes meant visitors still need a face to face service once they are in the area. They also claim Whitby’s historic harbourside has been neglected by the council, and say that money raised from the public car parks on harbour land should be ring-fenced for re-investment in the area.
Campaigners are now mounting a legal challenge on both issues.
Former Mayor of Whitby and the chair of the Whitby District Tourism Association, John Freeman, said: “For many Whitby folk the proposed closure of the TIC is the final straw. The people of Whitby are unhappy about the neglect inflicted on the harbour, a valuable and crucial asset of the town.”
Scarborough Borough Council tourism manager, Janet Deacon said: “During all our recent decision making processes, we have made it very clear that a staffed tourism information service will remain in Whitby. It could even be in the same building as at present, but this will depend on what the eventual leaseholder wishes to use the building for.
“Other options being considered are an extension to the current building or the service being housed within our harbour office building, which is only a two minute walk along the road from the current location and is still in a prominent position for those arriving in Whitby by car or public transport.”