Decision to relocate Woodbridge TIC confirmed
14 December 2012
Last month’s decision by Suffolk Coastal’s Cabinet to go ahead with plans to relocate Woodbridge’s Tourist Information Centre (TIC) to the town’s library has been confirmed by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee. The move will enable the Council to improve its customer facilities by providing both a TIC and a customer service point for general Council inquiries in the centre of the town.
The TIC at its current location is now scheduled to close at the end of January. The change will coincide with the launch of a new internet ticketing service from train operator Greater Anglia and the planned installation of a ticketing machine on the station platform.
“As I have made clear since the relocation of the office next to the railway station was first proposed in July, this is something based on both the realities of the stark financial challenges facing this Council and the changing demands of modern tourists,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Leisure.
“We are the only Council in Suffolk to have three TICs, and their annual cost continues to be in excess of £250,000 a year, or around £5 of our Band D Council Tax bill of £149. Relocating Woodbridge’s services will save us around a much-needed £30,000 a year.
“Our commitment to attracting tourists to the unique delights of our district as a whole, and the Woodbridge area in particular, will not be diminished. We are working closer than ever with partners to provide the modern online information that today’s tourists increasingly want and expect, while still offering most of our conventional face-to-face services,” added Cllr Holdcroft.
The decision was reviewed as it was claimed there had been insufficient consultation with Woodbridge Town Council, and that the report considered by Cabinet included flaws and inaccuracies, while the needs of those without access to the internet were being ignored.
Suffolk Coastal has been reviewing all its services because of its need to save money following a reduction of over 30 per cent in its funding from Whitehall. The review of tourism confirmed that the numbers using both local and national TICs is falling, while more and more people are going online for their tourist information.
The new TIC at Woodbridge library will be part of a new Suffolk Coastal information facility, and its customer service staff will help anyone who needs help with online ticket enquiries or bookings. Both the Council’s other TICs at Aldeburgh and Felixstowe have also moved in recent years.
“The Woodbridge TIC’s current location has meant that its rail ticket service has been very well used, but those ticket sales have been costing this Council over £2,000 a year excluding the cost of our staff’s time. We cannot afford to provide that service any more, particularly when those tickets will be able to be bought at the station or online,” added Cllr Holdcroft.
The Council is working with Waveney’s tourism service and with local tourism businesses and partnerships to offer a better service, and in particular meet the ever-increasing demand for accommodation booking and information searches.
The Council supported thesuffolkcoast.co.uk website has doubled its usage in the last year, and a monthly enewsletter is sent to people interested in local events and news. There are also projects underway to introduce mobile apps so those with smart mobile devices can get targeted information.
The Council is also working hard with local tourism businesses, and the regional Visit East Anglia, to attract more out of season visits and to promote the district across Britain and particularly neighbouring regions.