Ten second window to ‘save’ Wisbech tourist office scuppered by quick fire amendment

A TEN second window of opportunity opened briefly and was promptly crushed last night as the axe finally fell on a stand alone tourist office for Wisbech.

Newly elected Lib Dem councillor Gavin Booth proposed a motion at Fenland District Council that might have suspended closure but before it could be debated an amendment effectively scuppering a reprieve was debated and approved.

Councillor Simon King stepped in with the amendment that merely invited the council to “recognise that tourism is a vital area of business growth” and that a tourist information centre hub in Wisbech “is central to this success”.

Whilst he also invited councillors to appreciate the loss of expert knowledge brought about through staff redundancies, his amendment, overwhelmingly approved, simply asked the new tourism committee to consult and to ensure “expert tourism knowledge is not lost”.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor said it did not make to sense to throw away the expertise of existing staff and she failed to understand why, with the Olympics a year away, the council planned to decimate its tourism centre.

She called for the “sacking of staff to be rescinded” until after 2012 and for a proposed new tourism website to run alongside the centre for the time being.

Council Leader Alan Melton refused to comment on staffing issues, claiming they were tied up with a wide ranging review but he said that far from being neglected a major emphasis was being placed on tourism.

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“Tourist information will be available throughout the whole of Fenland,” he said. “There is a lot to offer tourists including fishing, the rivers and cycle ways.” Wisbech was vital to the tourism offer, he said, but the current remit was too narrow.

He said that whilst Fenland “is never going to get an Alton Towers” it was vital the new tourism committee came forward quickly with positive ideas to enhance the tourism offer for the whole of the district.

Cllr Booth said he was concerned about replacing people with specialist knowledge with technology and that it was important to interact with groups of visitors through a tourism centre.

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