Council confirms there’ll be no new tourist centre for Marlborough – there’ll be a website instead
Efforts to create a new tourist information centre with full-time staff in Marlborough have been abandoned.
Instead Marlborough town councillors have voted in favour of funding for a new website to provide information for those planning to visit Marlborough and tourists already in the town who could access the Wi-Fi system.
At the full council meeting on Monday evening (November 28) the mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson confirmed that proposals for a new tourist information centre at the town hall had been dropped.
After the tourist information centre in the George Lane car park was closed, there was a staffed tourist information point in the library. Then that too was closed this year by Wiltshire Council.
Over the past six months various schemes had been floated to provide a new, full-time centre in the town – complete with a shop.
Councillor Rich Pitts gave the council detailed information about the new website, which he said will give local tourist attractions, hotels, B&Bs, shops, restaurants and so on, access to a page of their own to advertise themselves.
And he emphasised that the site would get top billing on search engines. It was not made clear who will be monitoring the content of these pages to make sure they do not mislead tourists or damage the reputation of other users of the site.
The council voted through the £300 needed to register five web domain names over two years. But the mayor admitted that the website would “only meet part of our needs – we’d like a nice motherly woman behind a counter. If cost were not a problem we’d rather have a traditional tourist information centre.”
OTHER MATTERS ARISING:
SCHOOLS: Councillor Fogg announced that the new school building to house the combined St Mary’s infants and St Peter’s junior schools is back on the agenda. It’s top of the list of projects put forward by Wiltshire Council to the Department for Education.
So far there is no commitment by Wiltshire Council, the two schools' governors or the Department of Education - there is "an expression of interest." If the building went ahead it would be under a PFI which would allow the PFI company to supply 'soft services' like cleaning.
The building process would come under the Department for Education's Partnership for Schools - and so would be under the control of the Department. It is not clear yet whether the school would later revert to being a normal local authority school.
Under the coalition government’s education act a new school must be either an academy or a free school - and move out of local authority control. It is not clear yet whether the combined St Peter's and St Mary's would be considered to be "a new school."
THE TOWN HALL PROJECT: an attempt by Councillor Dobson to put the controversial town hall development project to a vote of the council was rejected by the mayor. He said it would not be appropriate because the result of the consultation had not been made known and the council “could be accused or pre-determinism”.
It was confirmed that to date the consultation had cost £6,385; that the original agreed budget to develop an outline design had not been overspent; that Wiltshire’s conservation officer and building inspector had been involved in the planning; and that fire officers had included sprinklers at various points in the design and a structural engineer’s suggestions had also been incorporated.