Slump in register office weddings in Great Yarmouth
THE number of weddings taking place at the register office in Great Yarmouth has dropped by almost 60pc since the money-saving move to the central library last year.
According to figures obtained by the Mercury only 44 couples whispered their vows at the venue compared to 103 at Gorleston's Ferryside in the same April to August six-month period - peak ceremony season - the year before.
Meanwhile the number of couples tying the knot in the borough's other licensed venues remained the same at 88 for both years.
Caroline Clarke, who oversees all the county's register offices said she was surprised by the figures, adding: 'We feel we are offering the best we can.'
'We are really proud of the room which has nice chairs and tables. We are putting in air conditioning and trying to do everything we can.
'In an ideal world we would have transferred our beautiful room at Ferryside and popped it upstairs at the library. Everybody's wedding day is special and it should be perfect. We aim to make it as perfect as possible - in a library.'
She stressed all feedback from couples was positive and other aspects of the service including registering births and deaths was working well.
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'When people do come in they are generally pleasantly surprised. A lot of people say they thought it was going to be awful but it is really nice,' she added.
Although the wedding slump in Yarmouth did not reflect a county-wide trend there is no way of knowing where people were choosing to marry instead.
It was possible, she added, that it was mostly people from away who were turning their backs on the library and not local couples at all.
'I had not realised how much they had dropped,' she said. 'But I have to say because people knew Ferryside was moving a lot of people squidged in at the last minute.
'People have voted with their feet and some might have hopped across the border to Lowestoft. Also it might be Suffolk people we have lost.'
She was continuing to pressure the museums' service to obtain a licence for marriages to take place in the Tolhouse Museum, Yarmouth's oldest civic building where felons and witches perished.
Ferryside is being used for minibus provision by Norse services and meals on wheels. The site is being prepared for market as, and when, those services are ready to relocate.