Call for review over Seaton TIC options

PROTESTERS gathered at the Tourist Information Centre in Seaton to call for a review of options over where it should be based.

PROTESTERS gathered at the Tourist Information Centre in Seaton to call for a review of options over where it should be based.

Seaton Chamber of Commerce organised the demonstration on Friday, December 11, in response to the town council's recommendation to keep the centre at the tramway in a scaled down operation.

Members of Seaton Visitor Centre Trust, local businesses, tourist providers and users of the TIC rallied round to show their support.

The group then walked to the town hall where they handed the council a letter.

Chamber chairman Marcus Hartnell said closure would be the "final nail in the coffin for Seaton".

He said: "Downgrading, or even closing the TIC, would be the single biggest thing to affect this town for years."

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He added the move could lead to job cuts in the run-up to Christmas and criticised the council's lack of consultation.

The letter to the council questioned why there was such a hurry to move when EDDC said the premises were available until October 2010.

Heather Sanham, of Seaton Visitor Centre Trust, also fears there will be job losses, with the replacement of the centre with a window facility at the tramway ticket office.

She said: "The negative impact of such a move on the local economy is causing enormous concern.

"Also lost will be the benefit to Seaton and surrounding villages of the staff's vast knowledge and experience."

Town clerk David Mears said they had listened to various groups during monthly meetings and would respond to the letter in due course.

He confirmed that internal meetings were being held with TIC staff to discuss staffing needs on the new site, but would not comment further.

He said: "The council has to make a decision. We cannot revisit it."

He explained they wanted to move the TIC out of season, and not stand in the way of regeneration for the town.

Mayor Sandra Semple said the town's priority was a youth centre and that a TIC came further down the list.

She said: "In making our decisions, we have to consider not just the chamber and visitor centre trust, but also the town in general, other organisations, and other priorities, and we have to look to the long term as well as to the short term."

The protest comes following a meeting at East Devon District Council this month, when representatives from the chamber, visitor centre and Seaton Community Group called for more time to make a decision.

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