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Former Hunstanton mayor claims town 'let down' over tourist hub move

A former town mayor has accused its current leadership of letting down the community over the controversial move of its tourist information hub.

Campaigners seeking to reverse the change have claimed many of Hunstanton’s businesses didn’t know about the plan before it was announced.

But the town’s current civic head has urged critics to work with the council instead.

Hunstanton will get an unmanned TIC in the Coal Shed Gallery, but not everyone is happy.
Hunstanton will get an unmanned TIC in the Coal Shed Gallery, but not everyone is happy.

Plans to shut the old centre in the town hall, and move to an unstaffed facility in the Coal Shed Gallery on Le Strange Terrace, were announced last month.

At the time, town council leaders said the closure was necessary as social distancing could not be maintained in the old centre.

But critics, who have been carrying out a consultation exercise with town business people this week, say most of them hadn’t known about the plan.

And former mayor Amanda Bosworth, who now chairs the town’s Civic Society, said the authority she once led had failed to live up to its claims of serving or working with the town’s residents in the affair.

She said: “I see no resemblance of that in this decision. I think the town has been let down by the town council.”

The society has written an open letter to senior members of both the town council and West Norfolk Council, urging them to reconsider the issue.

It argues that the closure undermines efforts to help the town recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus and could do its reputation with visitors long-term damage.

The letter said: “If lockdown has taught the nation anything, it is the need for human contact.

“A warm welcome, informed advice on local amenities and the facility to obtain reduced-price tickets for local attractions are resources that will be sorely missed.

“This will undoubtedly chip away at the town’s reputation as being a traditional and friendly seaside resort.”

But the town’s current mayor, Tony Bishopp, yesterday argued that the move to an unstaffed tourist centre was in line with the thinking behind broader campaigns to encourage tourists to return to West Norfolk, which acknowledged the tendency of visitors to seek information online first.

He said that, while the coronavirus outbreak had forced the closure of the old centre, other factors were also involved which he could not discuss further because of staff confidentiality issues.

He also reiterated that a staffed centre was planned as part of the development of a new town library And said he would be repeating his call for talks with the Civic Society in an effort to resolve the differences between it and the council.

He said: “The Civic Society should be working with us and we should be working with them.”

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