Row erupts over site of tourist bureau

A VITALLY needed visitor information point in one of North Yorkshire’s most prominent tourist towns could be thrown into jeopardy after residents have objected to plans for the new site.

The new information hub in Richmond is needed after the District Council controversially pulled the plug on £130,000 funding for tourist information centres in Richmond and Leyburn earlier this year and replaced them with tourist information points run by the private sector.

A planning application for a new cafe in Friary Gardens, where it is hoped the main new Richmond tourist information point will be situated, is set to go before a Richmondshire District Council planning committee tonight.

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But following an outcry from residents over the plans, which would also create an outside paved area in the memorial gardens with seating for as many as 56 people, it is now feared the tourist information point will not go ahead impacting on a vital economic lifeline for the town.

Simon Fletcher, assistant director at Hambleton and Richmondshire District Councils, said: “We have seen about half a dozen new visitor information points since it was announced the dedicated tourist information centre will close.

“But the proposed site in Friary Gardens will be by far the largest.

“It would probably be the place where the most tourist information is available.”

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The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier the year that the district council was closing the tourist information centres, despite the visitor industry being worth £184.5m annually to Richmondshire’s economy and supporting more than 4,500 jobs during the peak season.

It is feared the decision to shut the centres could lead to the Dales being overtaken again by other areas as a visitor destination.

The Leyburn visitor information point is now situated in the Dales Haven Bed and Breakfast, where the council say it is proving a success.