District council reviews TIC funding in Harleston, Loddon and Wymondham

Independently-run tourist information centres in south Norfolk could face a funding cut under measures to balance district council books.

South Norfolk Council currently grants �18,000 a year towards the running of three TICs based in Loddon, Harleston, and Wymondham.

However, councillors will be told today that they will have to consider potential cuts to their centre grants as a result of ongoing financial pressures.

The warning comes as the local authority, which recently ended senior management merger talks with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, looks to make additional savings of around �2.5m over the next four years.

Members of South Norfolk's environment and economy overview subcommittee will today be asked to refer the review of the funding of the independently-operated TICs to a tourism task group ahead of the council's budget setting for 2012/13.

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Tourism is worth around �170m to the district's economy and employs more than 3,000 people.

But Mark Heazle, active life and play officer, said the council needed to ensure that the investment in TICs represented value for money and will generate extra visitor spend. The council also runs its own TIC in Diss.

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In a report to members, he said: 'The financial year 2012/13 will be another tough one, with savings needing to be found from budgets across the authority. Members will want to consider if there is scope for reducing or rationalising the amounts that we grant fund each or any of the TICs in question,' he said.

South Norfolk Council currently awards �4,000 a year to the Loddon Tourist Information Point, which is based at the listed Old Town Hall and is open from April to October. The centre - on the gateway to the southern Broads - received more than 3,100 visits last year.

Harleston Information Plus currently receives �6,000 a year from the district council and dealt with 1,800 tourism enquiries, which was a 'cause of concern.'

'One must question whether our contribution is offering the best use of our resources. The close proximity to the Diss TIC, which we obviously operate, must also be given consideration,' said Mr Heazle.

He added that the Wymondham TIC, at the town's historic Market Cross, which is awarded �8,000 a year, was the busiest of the three facilities with 15,000 visitors last year.

'The TIC plays an important role in Wymondham and its prosperity as a tourist destination. Concerns remain, however, about the suitability of the building for its current considering its access problems, despite its prominent location and historical importance,' said Mr Heazle.

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