£60,000 tourism cuts under attack
A WISBECH councillor has called for an explanation into how Fenland District Council intends to cut £60,000 from its tourism budget. Councillor Roger Green labelled the proposed cutback a false economy and wondered if the council was planning to get invol
A WISBECH councillor has called for an explanation into how Fenland District Council intends to cut £60,000 from its tourism budget.Councillor Roger Green labelled the proposed cutback a false economy and wondered if the council was planning to get involved in celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and Wisbech's role in bringing it to an end.He told councillors at last Thursday's full council meeting that tourism was possibly the biggest, growth industry in Fenland - worth more than £80million a year to the district's economy."But I cannot help wondering if we, as a council, fully appreciate this," he said.With more people visiting the Fens he questioned if the council was doing all it could to intensify the promotion of tourism, especially with a start having been made on the "wonderful £47million Nene Waterfront development" at Wisbech.He asked:- How can the tourism potential of the Fens be fully exploited to the benefit of the area's economy if cuts of around £60,000 are to be made to its budget?- Could members be given some clear indication as to how and where these cuts will be made?- It is a false economy in an area where speculation arguably could stand to reap rich rewards. Is there, therefore, no possibility of there being a re-think on this important issue?- We have all been very sorry to see our most efficient tourism officer, Penny Stocks, leave us. Is she being replaced? If not, who will do the invaluable work she carried out, for example, by working with the Wisbech Tourism and In Bloom committees?- Next year is the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. An extensive programme of events is being planned by voluntary organisations in Wisbech and the role played by Thomas Clarkson. Is the council planning to contribute in any way to such an important anniversary? If not would they please consider doing so?Cllr Green was promised written answers.In a statement this week the council said that after extensive public consultation in Fenland's four market towns tourism was rated as less important than other services, such as community safety, housing and planning.In order to balance the budget members asked for £60,000-worth of saving to be made in the tourism budget and "we are looking at ways this can be achieved".The statement added: "The council recognises that tourism and inward investment is an important part of the local economy. With this in mind, the tourism function will become an integral part of our economic and community development team, to contribute to achieving the aims of our 'Open for Business' priority."This would include a longer-term strategy to help raise the district's profile and promote it as a pleasant, vibrant place to visit.