Controversy Over TIC Relocation Continues

tourist info schiller shelterThe controversy over the re-siting of the tourist information centre to the new Schiller Shelter at Porthcressa continues as one councillor is claiming the move was illegal.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough says that the Council didn’t follow correct procedure in moving the centre from the Steamship Company office without consulting the public.

The planned move was first shared with members at a Policy and Resources meeting in February, when the late Council Chairman, Mike Hicks, said that the public must be asked for views over the site switch.

Mike said he wanted to show the community that councillors, “do care and do listen,” and added that he didn’t want this to, “develop into another source of aggravation for the Council.”

Gordon says that consultation didn’t happen and that’s not right.

But Chief Planner Craig Dryden says the P&R Committee agreed in principle at the February meeting to the relocate the TIC. He says various organisations were consulted, including the Islands’ Partnership and the Steamship Company, as well as local businesses and users, staff and visitors to the TIC.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

The ending of the lease at the Steamship Offices provided the opportunity to consider alternative premises with a view to making cost savings, says Craig, and feedback received has been generally positive.

Gordon is also concerned that the shelter is locked when the TIC closes in the evening at 5pm and he wants it open longer, so people can take their fish and chips there and enjoy the view.

Craig says having the TIC Staff present helps keep the building safe and secure by deterring vandalism, which has been a problem previously. And he says a sign identifying the building will be placed there soon.

The campaign to have it moved from the new beachfront location is gaining momentum. Former councillor Sheila Thomas says she’s launching a petition next week to encourage the Council to move the centre into the Town Hall reception area.



15 Responses to Controversy Over TIC Relocation Continues

  1. Wowlookmineisevenlongerthanyours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! June 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    One central location, easy to identify (bar the previous noted people) and making good use of it.

    Best comment yet.

  2. Wowlookhowlongmynameis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! June 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    To be honest, it really doesn’t matter where the TIC is because most tourists can’t find their own way home, even if the route was signposted all the way to the front door with runway lights! We all do it, and it’s just something that people lack, spatial awareness and a sense of direction. Back to the discussion though, I am also a +1 for being against the move of the TIC to its current location. As I am usually disgusted by the councils decisions to move into any newly built/renovated property. I often wonder why the councils departments are so spread out over the whole island, a perfect plan (in my head) would be to move every department in the council to the old school. One central location, easy to identify (bar the previous noted people) and making good use of it.

  3. Diane Cidade June 9, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Sheila,

    Any location for the TIC will be a failure if you don’t sign post it properly and let people know where it is.

    I believe the reason why books are sold at a TIC is because they also provide information, and even possibly another revenue stream, assuming such a deal has been negotiated.

    It seems you are suggesting the possibility of further, greater layout changes than just adding another desk into the One Stop Shop area, if that option doesn’t work. Where will the money for the alterations come from?

    – Diane Cidade (Please note the correct spelling. xx)

  4. Sheila Thomas June 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Message for Craig Dryden. The Schiller Shelter was never designed or built as a TIC Office and any sign identifying it as such will be misappropriation of council property. I was told by a Senior Council Officer (in your company) that the businesses that had been consulted were Clive Mumford at the Papershop, , Gaz at the Deli and Ginger Jim at the T shirt Company, not what I would call a cross section of local businesses or a public discussion which was the recommended route advised by the P &R committee of Councillors back in February and has been totally disregarded by yourself and other council employees.
    To Diane Circace. The 1Stop Shop is the most appropriate place for the TIC to be relocated to as from there all information on the island’s can be collected. It is big enough for purpose, the TIC is “information” not a book store or for selling postcards. If local people have issues to be discussed then we could revert to the old reception through the main (now disused) front door, by dividing the present large office occupied by 2 people or there is a private meeting room through this office. The 1Stop Shop is located in a most prominent, distinguishable building on the main road, is next to the Community Bus and tour bus drop off points which makes it easily accessible to most of our tourists.
    The Schiller Shelter must not become yet another council office. It needs furniture appropriate for the job, not light blue material seating which shows every mark or coloured cubes that are more suitable for the children’s area in the library. The SHELTER must be available to our visitors for longer hours than the TIC work and must be open during daylight hours especially in inclement weather.

  5. happy chappy. June 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Susan and Neil Kaye === Suggest you look at property prices / duchy rents before you get too excited.

  6. Susan and Neil Kaye June 7, 2013 at 1:59 am

    We spent a week on Scilly recently and the TIC and (especially Becky) were awesome! They did everything possible to make our stay marvelous and created a terrific itinerary for us to get to all five islands. We had a great time and couldn’t have done it without their professional assistance. It made spending money there easy and enjoyable and we got value, which we appreciate. We were so taken by the Isles that we are talking about possibly retiring to Scilly. As a real tourist I can say that TIC was everything and more that could be expected.

    Susan and Neil Kaye

  7. Jan June 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I’ll tell you how easy it is to find TIC. A ‘first-time to the islands’ visiting couple (not young) called into Island Carriers office looking for Tourist Information! Imagine their dismay when I had to send them back to the Park, so they could find their way to the Porthcressa area. Can’t understand why it was moved, really.

  8. Kev Wright June 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Very good points from Glynn – exactly who was consulted? I’d like to know. The TIC was fairly anonymous in the middle of town as anyone who worked in that vicinity (including myself) will tell you.

    I don’t think – if/when properly signposted – that the shelter would be a bad location – although if it’s shut in the evening then this is totally useless and unacceptable!

    I remember it working fine when it was based there before. Does anyone know why it was moved from the Town Hall in the first place? I personally don’t remember it being there so I’m guessing it was a while ago.

    I’d have reservations about it being in the same place as people go to pay their bills, ask about housing issues, child support, disability living allowance and other private issues such as these. So I’m not sure that section of the Town Hall is ideal.

    I think someone suggested the rear of the Town Hall as a potential location. This would make more sense.

  9. maggiemay June 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Well, I think the One Stop Shop would be a better place for the TIC regardless of Diane Cidade’s comments – the area being of a sensitive place when psople are paying bills etc. Just for the record the Town Hall, prior to all the alterations that have taken place over many past decades, was always the site for the Tourist Information Office, so why should it not be considered as suitable. Also it appears, to many, that sight is being lost as to the originality of the shelter (as it used to be called – and also a place for shelter) being long forgotten, it was built in memory of the Schiller. I applaud Glynne Lucas’ comments, he’s hit the nail on the head.

  10. non-scillonian June 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    It would be good if the petition was more of a survey, it could have two columns, one for and one against to get a real representation of the views of locals and visitors alike rather than just hear the voices of one side louder than the other. I for one think that the new location looks brilliant and both sides are clearly separated so neither takes over. If vandalism really is an issue then it makes sense to protect the site for as much of the time as possible so that everyone can enjoy it, the public purse for repairs isn’t infinite. The money savings on rent alone make it worth the move. Change happens, try and embrace the positives instead of squabbling over the details

  11. Glynne Lucas June 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I would like to comment on the remarks made by Craig Dryden:
    quote – He says various organisations were consulted, including the Islands’ Partnership and the Steamship Company, as well as local businesses and users, staff and visitors to the TIC.unquote:
    I have been in business and a user of the TIC for 25 years and in all those years I’ve never, ever been asked what my thoughts are about the TIC, the running of it, the staffing of it or the position of it and I resent most strongly this blatant distortion of the truth by claiming that ‘local businesses were consulted’. Which businesses? When he claims that ‘Visitors’ to the TIC were asked for their opinion on the siting of the TIC, this is a total fabrication. He claims that the I.S.S.Co supported the move, the Steamship Co. do not count in this argument because it is they who held the lease on the old building, they have a pecuniary interest and their opinion as to where the TIC should be re-sited, is completely irrelevant. I would also like My Dryden to explain how long it’s been since the Steamship Co started running our Council.
    In my opinion, this whole episode results from full Council placing too much trust in the recommendations made by ‘Committees’ without bothering to familiarise themselves with their work or questioning their proposals. Another word that springs to mind is ‘manipulation’.

  12. Diane Cidade June 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Once again our Council is facing accusations of not following correct procedures. I support Cllr Bilsborough in his efforts to ensure there is transparency in the way that our Council makes decisions and hope we get to the bottom of who made this decision, and what input from the community it was based on, as a matter of urgency. At a time when our Council has no choice but to tighten its belt, I can’t argue with plugging a £15k-a-year hole. I’m less concerned about the current location of the TIC than I am about the powers and functions of members of the Council being undermined by Officers.

    I strongly disagree that the TIC should be moved into the One Stop Shop located at the Town Hall reception, and for many reasons. The lack of physical space is the first reason that springs to mind: where exactly is everything meant to go? An extension to that is the complete lack of privacy it would offer to anyone going about their business in the reception area. I find it highly inappropriate that it is implied that someone trying to pay their bills, asking for forms, or asking sensitive questions should have to do so in such an exposed manner, surrounded by visitors with their own, very different, queries. I fail to see how the logistics of this proposed move would work and would like this clarified by the petition writer. Perhaps it would do the community at large some good to have a look at facts and figures of just what sorts of queries the TIC deals with, and indeed the volume of people it deals with, so that we can have an informed debate on all of the issues surrounding the TIC; not just its location, but the Council’s involvement with the TIC going forward.

    We’re lying to ourselves if we think the previous location was perfect. A number of us who worked in the centre of town, metres from the Steamship building even, can vouch that visitors had a really difficult time of finding the TIC; you’ll remember that a member of staff from the Paper Shop has commented on scillytoday claiming that she would regularly get asked for directions to the TIC, and I have had similar experiences myself. The Porthcressa location, I feel, can be a success if it is correctly advertised and sign-posted, and that each individual function of the building can help raise the profile of the others; the facilities that a visitor might need are all together in one place.

    As for suggestions that the shelter would have been better used as a café of some description, I believe this was one of the Council’s original suggestions for the space and it was met with disdain by local business owners and so the idea was scrapped. The fact that the shelter has such nice views is perhaps what partly makes it so important that it is kept open later than the operating hours of the TIC. I was under the impression (from Diana Mompoloki being quoted in our local media) that TIC staff had the facilities to pack their equipment away safely under lock and key at the end of the day; what I didn’t realise was that said locks and keys were the ones for the entire shelter! To me, having a shelter at all (which requires daily maintenance), is better justified economically if the Council and tourism sector are getting some other use from it as well – we just need to sort out the opening hours.

  13. kowneow June 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    This is a very bad decision by the Council,i completely agree with the comments above. The TIC should have never been moved it was situated in exactly the right place for people to find and walk too on there way to off islands or around St. Marys. Its hard enough already to get visitors to the Islands and keep them happy without this stupid decision. I hope the Council will see sense and move back to the heart of the town? What will they do next? Nothing surprises me anymore on the Isles Of Scilly!

  14. Jenny June 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Surely you want it where people going to the boats will pass on their way to the boats, I think it was perfect where it was as it was a halfway point along the main drag which meant you were in the best place to either hurry along to the boats and not too far out of the way in the other direction if you wanted to explore the other half of St Mary’s. The new building looks great, but I think it would have made a fantastic coffee shop or traditional tea shop, the amazing views being a real draw for tourists.

  15. Dave June 6, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Quite frankly, so far this year the TIC has not been at its best anyway. Towards the beginning of the Scillonian 3 schedule we had a boat arriving late on a bank holiday Monday full of passengers. I was walking past the TIC that evening as the boat was unloading and there wasn’t a single light on or person to be seen. Sure enough half an hour later you’ve got people wandering aimlessly around the streets without anyone to give them advice on where they need to be. Now the TIC is out of sight on Portchressa beach it will be like that every day as the signposting to find it and location are terrible. A poor decision and another disappointment for our customers.