Threatened Bognor Regis tourist centre is reprieved from the axe

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A two-month reprieve has been granted for the tourism help point in Bognor Regis.

The town’s visitor information centre and its three permanent part-time staff have gained a stay of execution until August 31.

But the threat of closure was widely condemned by Arun district councillors in an hour-long debate for its impact on the important holiday trade.

They agreed to a proposal from Felpham East member John Holman to make every effort to ensure a physical centre continues to be provided.

This would be extra to the council’s preference for a virtual visitor information service on the internet.

Cllr Holman said keeping a Bognor centre – similar to the existing one on the Place St Maur – was vital to the town’s multi-million pound tourism business.

“I think the visitor information centre is the first point of contact for visitors to the town,” he said.

“They want to know what places they can go to visit and perhaps want to pick up a map and book accommodation.

“It’s about face-to-face contact with someone who knows the locality.

“Visitor information centres are a tremendous amenity all over the world. It would be a very sad loss to Bognor if one was not there.”

His suggestion, seconded by Felpham East councillor Paul English, commits the council to look to keep a centre open in the town.

That aspect had been lacking from the three recommendations which council members had originally been asked to approve.

These were to keep the centre open until August 31, instead of the original June 30 closure, find an extra £10,000 to fund the two additional months and enhance the Sussex by the Sea website.

A report by Arun chief executive Ian Sumnall said options to replace the centre could see visitor information points in locations such as hotels and post offices or the service from Littlehampton’s centre expanded to cover all the district.