Anger over tourist info switch
NEWS that Bexhill's tourist information centre is to be relocated to Battle has been greeted with horror by business leaders.
Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and Tourism says it is appalled at the decision to transfer telephone enquiries from March 31.
Rother leader Cllr Graham Gubby countered the chamber's claims that "we cannot expect Battle TIC personnel to have in-depth knowledge of Bexhill" and the move would "utterly disregard" the interests of local business.
"It raises the question as to why no one came forward in Bexhill to take on the TIC when we put it out to tender," he said.
Chamber president David Getty outlined his disappointment at the proposals.
He said: "Can you imagine the confusion? You telephone a Bexhill number which is answered as Battle TIC, and many people will simply put the phone down assuming they have a wrong number. Surely, with the best will in the world Battle TIC personnel are going to promote their own town of Battle first?
"Even if sending out a Bexhill Guide they will be tempted to include a Battle Guide. Plus we cannot expect Battle TIC personnel to have in-depth knowledge of Bexhill and our accommodation providers. One has to wonder whether they will even know where our guest houses are and whether they will be able to speak with any authority about them."
Mr Getty said Rother councillors told him that, after the closure of the Marina TIC, the Bexhill centre would continue to run from the Community Help Point in Amherst Road.
"We had to make the best of that situation. Now we are faced with a totally different situation: Not only have the goal posts been moved, they have been relocated six miles away!
"Many businesses in this town rely on the visitor sector for business and this backward step will have repercussions all around town.
"Bexhill has problems, and for many business is not easy. There are several businesses in the town who are really struggling, and totally removing the TIC is a decision from Rother District Council that utterly disregards the interests of the business community in Bexhill."
Cllr Gubby said the closure of the TIC was for financial reasons but there are plans "behind the scenes" to provide a new - look information service.
He said: "We have limited funds and it's a discretionary service. We as a council don't gain from it, but the people do.
"What was at Bexhill will now close but there will now be leaflets and information at the Community Help Point."
Cllr Gubby said the methods of providing tourist information have been evolving in recent years with internet technology taking over. A single shop was perhaps no longer the answer.
"What I would expect to happen in the future, is that if you want information on the arts or culture you go to the De La Warr Pavilion. If you want information on historic sites you go to the museum."
"I would also expect talks behind the scenes between a number of people keen to see a tourist information service in Bexhill continue come through and provide information."
r Bexhill enquiries, April 2004 - March 2005: 34,630.
Battle enquiries for same period: 130,000 (includes Battle Abbey).