Fareham tourism centre’s future is thrown into doubt

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FAREHAM’S tourist information centre is facing the axe as the council tightens its belt.

The centre, which is on the ground floor of Westbury Manor Museum in West Street, Fareham, is jointly funded by Fareham Borough Council and Tourism South East (TSE).

But as both bodies have slashed their funding to the centre over the past two years, with more cuts on the cards, its future is uncertain.

However, local businesses have spoken in support of the centre.

Nicola Stafford, front-house manager of the Lysses House Hotel in High Street, Fareham, said: ‘People assume that Fareham is a very quiet little town and it isn’t. On Tuesdays or Wednesdays you can’t get a room here for love or money.

‘And during the summer this area gets very busy with people looking for somewhere to stay and they do help with general tourist information.

‘It would be a blow to lose the TIC.’

And Shaun Kelly, owner of the Trafalgar Guest House in the High Street, said: ‘They’ve always been very helpful and supportive to our business.

‘I would be very sorry to see them go.

‘We get tourists come into Fareham for various reasons and they do go to the information centre to find out where’s best to go or eat around here.’

The council currently spends £42,827 a year on the TIC, matched by TSE, which covers staffing and operation costs. The space in the museum is given rent-free.

The council has previously looked at moving the centre into a new location in the town centre but couldn’t find anywhere suitable.

Moving it into Ferneham Hall was also looked at, but was considered unsuitable by TSE as the location would isolate it from the town centre area.

The Council Connect unit in the shopping centre was also rejected as it lacks any storage space.

The council is also looking at the possibility of moving the service entirely onto the internet, so there would no longer be the need for a physical office.

During the last year the TIC had more than 21,000 visitors and fielded a further 4,500 telephone, email and postal enquiries.

But the service is not a corporate priority for the borough council.

The council’s leisure and community policy review panel will look at the matter tonight and make recommendations to go before the executive at a future meeting.