Anger as Hayling tourist office reduces opening times

PACKED The beach on Hayling Island
PACKED The beach on Hayling Island
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CUTTING the weekend opening hours of a tourist information centre has been sharply criticised.

The visitor information centre at Beachlands on Hayling Island used to be open seven days a week, including some bank holidays.

But Havant Borough Council has taken the decision to reduce the opening hours, citing fewer customers over the weekends last year.

The new opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, with Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays closed.

During the peak season, from July 28 to September 6, the centre will only be open from 9am to midday on Saturday.

Robin Walton, who leads Discovering Hayling and is encouraging visitors to explore the island’s heritage, said: ‘There might be a case of closing it up until Easter but then throughout the summer and early autumn, I would have thought it was very short-sighted in lights of the developments we have around the Second World War. It’s very sad.’

Marshall Hill, one of the owners of Funland amusement park, said: ‘It’s ridiculous to stop providing visitor information at weekends.

‘If the council needs to save money, the centre should be closed at quiet times, not during busy weekends in the tourist season.’

Bob Haddock, who runs Hayling Seaside Railway, said: ‘We should support the tourist industry, which brings about £60m per year into the borough.’

Havant’s tourist information centre closed several years ago to save the council £93,000 a year in running costs.

It leaves the Hayling office one of the main places to find out about accommodation, attractions and places to eat.

Dawn Adey, service manager for market and customer relations, said: ‘Weekend opening hours have changed as we were experiencing low attendance at weekends during 2013.’

Councillor Andy Lenaghan said Hayling’s Conservative councillors had concerns and a meeting has been arranged.