IT WAS shocking news when we first broke the story that Ashbourne was to see its district council-run Tourist Information Centre close after so many years of it being a valuable first port of call for visitors to the town.
As the authority’s review into its ‘visitor services delivery’ gathered pace, word quickly spread that officials were considering replacing our centre with what basically amounts to a computer — a large, high tech screen with some numbers and pictures. It would never wash in Ashbourne.
But, it appears we should have kept our faith as, all through the process of finding a suitable replacement for the centre the district council has been adamant that nothing other than a manned ‘visitor information point’ or, as they refer to it, a ‘Level One VIP’, will do for Ashbourne.
As planning director Paul Wilson says in his recently published report: “Given the importance of tourism within Ashbourne and the wider Peak District, it is considered that anything less than a Level One VIP would result in a significant reduction in service to the potential detriment to the local economy.” It’s nice to know he cares.
In fact, the only aspect that seemed uncertain about Ashbourne ever seeing a manned tourist information centre again was the thorny issue of where to put it.
Four venues came under close scrutiny. The new library, GT News, Ashbourne Bookstore and Ashbourne Town Hall.
In our opinion, all of these would have been ideal. They’re all in prominent locations, will have the space available and the staff on hand and will hopefully not seem too ‘alien’ an environment for a tourist popping in and asking where the loo is.
But, saying that, we have faith in Mr Wilson’s final proposal that the town hall is the best bet. It has such a prominent frontage and while it might not immediately stand out as a tourist information centre, given the right signage people will soon get the idea.
Depending on what happens at the meeting tomorrow it’s all going to happen rather quickly and that’s good because spring is round the corner and Ashbourne needs and deserves a suitable venue to help promote what it has to offer.