Moves for Calderdale’s council-run Visitor Centres and a switch to single working across the service is on the cards.
Calderdale Council Cabinet supported recommendations which will see Halifax Visitor centre, now at Central Library, move to another town centre venue, probably Halifax Piece Hall, and alternate, cost-effective, premises will also be sought for Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre, currently at Hebden Bridge Marina.
The aim is to make savings where possible while retaining a face-to-face presence for the public, still seen as important despite more and more people doing their visitor research and making bookings online.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said tourism was critical to the Calderdale economy.
Last February budget proposals which had been brought forward to remove provision at the two centres received considerable opposition and were replaced with a review aiming to identify savings instead of closing them.
“It has been shown there is a move towards digital research but at the same time the review and consultation shows visitor information itself is still a valuable resource and some level of service should remain,” he said. “This tried to balance the two things.”
Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden), Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhood Services, said the way people approached holidays and weekends away had changed in the last ten or 20 years, but the proposals found solutions.
“We’re moving towards the digital age but we are still going to have that face-to-face contact,” she said.
Relocating Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre, possibly to the town’s library, would make the most significant net saving, of around £49,500, councillors were told, the proposal allowing for ongoing and additional income of £20,000 a year from commercial letting of the lower floor of the building it currently occupies.
Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Resources, Performance and Business Change, said she fully supported Halifax Visitor Centre moving from the library in terms of going to where the footfall is, now it was seen how successful Halifax Piece Hall has been.
This had impacted with visitors going on to Hebden Bridge.
“I strongly feel we should have a physical presence in Halifax and Hebden Bridge,” she said.
However all options affect the current staffing situation including a reduction in the overall staffing hours available.
Moving the Halifax centre to the Piece Hall is rated as the best opportunity to increase income in the long run but is expected not to generate a saving in its first two years of operation.