Lack of tourist information 'a joke'?
PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 September 2015
WESTON-SUPER-MARE has been 'flung onto the world stage' in recent weeks due to Banksy's arrival - but councillors say they are concerned the town's provision for tourists is 'a total joke'.
South West Transport Network (SWTN) has warned the lack of a tourist information centre (TIC) could mean only those armed with the latest technology will be able to navigate the town’s public transport.
SWTN representative David Redgewell attended North Somerset Council’s strategic planning and economic development panel to stress his concerns after the closure of the TIC and the First Travel Centre.
He suggested a centrally-located public transport information centre could house details of First Bus and Crosville bus schedules, and sell bus, coach or train tickets.
Crosville opened a travel shop in its Regent Street centre in August with the hope of plugging the gap, but Mr Redgewell says not enough is being done.
He said: “We have an issue of lack of tourist information in Weston. We have now lost the bus office and the Tourist Information Centre (TIC).
“The council leader Nigel Ashton has promised us an answer to this problem but I don’t know what this is. It’s a serious issue, we need to know what is happening with next year’s season.”
The panel wrote to executive members Elfan Ap Rees and Felicity Baker to ask what was being done to address the issue.
Cllr Ap Rees said: “There has been no further progress with this but First Bus have been informed that the Silica might be available to them if they could make use of the facility as a travel outlet. To date, First has not indicated that they wish to go ahead with this option.
“The council does not really hold influence on this and cannot determine what will be their commercial decision.”
But councillors were left unimpressed. Cllr Donald Davies said: “If we were to use the Conservative mantra of ‘payment by results’ then the executive member needs to cut his pay. This is appalling, isn’t it?
“This is important, we are trying to make ourselves a tourist destination.
“Unless the tourists come with a full IT kit the average tourist would not be able to find any information about public transport.
“If you compare us with other locations in the UK and even smaller seaside towns up in the north, they all have tourist information centres and we are meant to be a premier seaside destination.
“This isn’t good enough, it is a total joke.”
The TIC is moving out of its home in the Winter Gardens this weekend, but a new venue has yet to be found.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley suggests the lack of tourism expertise in the council is to blame.
He said: “It is extraordinary that Weston has been flung onto the world stage after an addition by one six-letter name, nothing to do with local government.
“Why don’t we hand it all over to the artists and let them have it? We are a bunch of old has-beens and we need to hand this over to people who move in those circles.”