Volunteers keep Beccles Tourist Information Centre open

The Beccles Tourist Information Centre has reopened after surge of almost 20 volunteers have agreed to help man the centre, after fears it would close permanently.

It was thought that the centre, at Beccles Quay, may have had to close due to funding cuts, initially from the Broads Authority and then Waveney District Council, but the Beccles Business Association (BBA) and Beccles Town Council stepped into to rescue the service.

Volunteers were found when it opened again during Easter and since then, with a successful funding bid from the Waveney Local Strategic partnership and match funded from the BBA and Town Council, there is now a full-time Tourist Information supervisor, Claire Ross, who also volunteers outside of her working hours.

Miss Ross, who is passionate about keeping the centre open, said: 'I was very shocked when the centre closed, especially as we had 53,000 people come into the centre with questions last year. It would have been a loss to the town, community and local businesses.

'I want more local people to be aware of us. The centre is for local people as well as tourist and they are quite shocked to find out from us what is going on in their own town.

'It is a huge relief to have it open again.'

Miss Ross will be responsible for the day to day running of the centre.

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There are also plans in place to open up the Bell Tower on a daily basis with the volunteers to provide a similar service in Beccles town centre.

Miss Ross added: 'This will enhance the service the volunteers already offer.'

Local businesses have also helped the venture by stocking the shelves with local goods to help make the centre become sustainable for the future and boost the local economy.

Christine Pinsent, chairman of BBA, said: 'During the short time it has opened it has had over 8,000 visitors which is really good promoting all the local facilities we have in the town. It shows what an important service this is and is not just for the tourists, it is for all the community to share information.'

The promotion and conservation of the Broads were hit after budget cut announcements last November.

Chief executive of the Broad's Authority, John Packman, said that they were negotiating with Waveney District Council to pick up the Tourist Information Centre at Beccles.

The Tourist information Centre is open seven days a week from 11am till 3pm, with the outer office open for information from 9am till 5pm.

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