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Row erupts over 'shabby' Hunstanton tourist information hub move

An ex-councillor has branded the announcement of a new, unmanned, tourist information hub for Hunstanton as "shabby and shoddy."

Town leaders have insisted the old centre, which was shut because of the coronavirus lockdown, would not enable visitors to maintain social distancing.

But, during a virtual town council meeting last night, Yvonne Bridger questioned how the new facility, an old coal shed on Le Strange Terrace, could serve the public without staff.

Hunstanton will get an unmanned TIC in the Coal Shed (36672928)
Hunstanton will get an unmanned TIC in the Coal Shed (36672928)

She said: "The dissemination, if one can call it that, was both shabby and shoddy.

"Suddenly, from nowhere, it was just out there. How does this serve the people of Hunstanton and how does it look?"

But town mayor, Tony Bishopp, rejected the claim and appeared to blame the furore on former workers as he argued the plan to move the centre was well known

He said: "I personally do not think it was shabby. I don’t think it was done as a shock.

"People have known for a long, long time the TIC is going to move to the library when it’s built and I think the only reason people think it’s shabby is because of the comments of a few disgruntled former employees."

Plans to convert the coal shed, which is the last surviving building associated with the town's former railway line, were announced in a joint statement by West Norfolk Council and the town council earlier this month.

Earlier in Thursday's Zoom meeting, Mr Bishopp read a prepared statement on the issue and refused to allow members to discuss it afterwards.

He said the town council had managed the old centre, which was housed in the town hall, on behalf of the borough and had not been given any funding to do so for the 2020-21 financial year, despite a £43,000 a year service agreement.

He said that discussions had been taking place for more than two years on the building's future and that moving the tourist facility to the town's new library, when it is built, was still thought to be the borough's preferred option.

He continued: "I am sure you can appreciate that Covid-19 has forced many changes and the need to ensure visitor and staff safety at all times is essential.

"In discussions with KLWNBC it was agreed that the Tourist Information Centre simply did not allow for social distancing to be maintained as it is currently laid out.

"I can assure you that the closure of the TIC was not taken lightly by HTC and have advised the Borough that we wish to work with them in the future way forward wherever and however we can."

But, in her own report, borough councillor Carol Bower said she had been "confused" by the developments as she had understood funding was in place up to next March.

Mr Bishopp also asked for members' own proposals for future use of the old centre to be presented to forthcoming committee meetings.

And he hit out at what he described as the "vitriol" that had been circulating against the town council in recent weeks, of which he claimed a large majority was untrue.

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