Last minute bid launched to save Bognor Regis tourist information centre

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A LAST-minute bid has been launched to save the current visitor information centre in Bognor Regis.

Traders’ chairman and president Nick Stuart-Nicolson said the town’s chamber of commerce wanted a U-turn to enable the service to survive for its 40,000-plus users.

It will be closed by Arun District Council after Wednesday, August 31.

Councillors decided they were no longer willing to support the Place St Maur facility as part of a multi-million pound package of cuts.

But Mr Stuart-Nicolson said: “It’s not too late to reverse the decision and save the service.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“Tourism is still extremely important to the town and the visitor information centre deserves to survive.

“It’s even more relevant after last week’s disappointing news that the town missed out on being awarded enterprise zone status by the government.”

He added: “The centre is in a really prominent position and is well used and valued by residents as well as visitors.

“There’s also the matter of saving the jobs there.

“Even if only some of them could be kept on, and it was a reduced service to the one currently provided, it would at least keep the service alive.

“It’s wrong to say everyone is going to use the internet to look up tourist information.

“They might do that before they go on holiday, but not while they are here.”

The centre was due to close on May 31, but Arun’s members decided to spend £17,000 keeping it open until August 31 to provide the service for a further summer.

Its opening hours this summer have been 10am to 4pm daily.

Cllr Norman Dingemans, who heads Arun’s tourism service, said: “Our VIC service is changing, not closing.

“From the moment the council announced it was looking at private operators for the service rather than subsidised by the taxpayer, we were very clear we remained committed to a visitor information service in our towns.

“But we recognised the way people access information and go about booking their holidays is changing.”

He said a new ‘VIC Lite’ service would open in the Place St Maur building in the coming weeks after talks with a new tenant.

The self-serve ‘VIC Lite’ will offer a full range of tourism information through leaflets, booklets and maps as well as high-speed internet points.