Council Chairman Says TIC Situation ‘Cannot Be Allowed To Drift’

tourist info schiller shelterThe Chairman of the Council says the current situation with the TIC needs prompt attention and can’t be allowed to drift.

Responding to recent criticism over the move of the information service to the new Schiller Shelter at Porthcressa, Amanda Martin says her views are mixed on whether the location is right.

She feels that Porthcressa is a good location and there was a need for the Council to save money on its lease at the Steamship Company. And she says first impressions are that it’s working well in its new home.

But she concedes that the original function of the building was as a public shelter and she has sympathy “with people who want to eat their fish and chips in the dry and warm.”

She’s called for the opening hours to extended.

Amanda wouldn’t be drawn on if and when the TIC would be taken over by the Islands Partnership, the private-sector body set up to drive tourism on the islands.

From Radio Scilly

amanda martin

Chairman Amanda Martin talks about Council cuts and the TIC

She says it’s unfair to expect such a new body to take on everything at once and it was always agreed that there would be a gradual transfer.

Amanda wants a “proper, careful analysis” of the responsibilities of the TIC and the income it generates. She says there shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction.

But she says there’s no wish by the Council to hold onto services unnecessarily, especially as every budget is now under review.

Staffing the TIC with volunteers has been suggested, but Amanda feels this needs to be thought through, as they could be called on to man the desk at unsociable hours, such as weekends.

There has to be a proper conversation between the Council, the Partnership and the members of the public who use it, she says.

36 Responses to Council Chairman Says TIC Situation ‘Cannot Be Allowed To Drift’

  1. Brian Blessed (oh wait, it's not Brian Blessed) June 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I’m going to argue for keeping aliases.

    The Council employ about 250 people, and out of our adult population of 1900 that represents about 13% of the population who are mostly quite nervous about putting their name to a comment.

    Aside from that obvious issue, you must factor in ‘the internets’. This is the internets, and it’s a leveller and people want to keep it that way for a variety of reasons but mostly because when they are on the internets and posting things then they can pretend they are more powerful/important/confident than they are in real life. They feel it would actually undermine their posts by revealing their names, and they do have a valid point in my opinion. Why must someone qualify a comment on this site with their real name? I’ll tell you why, because you want to know that you ‘like’ the person, or that the person is generally liked, or disliked, or respected, before you invest your support in their comment. You also don’t want to nail your colours to the mast of someone who posts a quite sensible comment but later find out that the person who posted it is a figure of dislike/ridicule/fun/pity in the community.

    I think you’ve all got a very peculiar stance on anonymity on the internet, it’s very commonplace, you don’t KNOW the person posting, all you know is the name or email address they have registered. So, Mike Bothroyd from Aylesbury on the BBC comments section could be Kevin Wright from Scilly for all I know. My point is that trying to ascertain identity on internet message boards is a a pointless activity. Even if I put my name to a comment on here, I don’t give YOU or anyone else permission to repeat my comments outside of this forum. But you will.

    Kevin, if someone wants to employ you then this is a very good place to find out a lot about you isnt it? You say that you dont have a facebook account but why not, you’re doing the exact same thing on here, sharing your personal history and your current feelings on events via this site, not even with friends but with the whole online world! This is very good reason for someone to NOT use their real name when discussing political ideals.

    The big issue on Scilly is that people can feel trapped, we all know each other (or THINK we know each other) and so we jump to conclusions when we read what someone we know has said, because we think we can contextualise it. Oh he’s stupid, ergo his opinions are stupid, I can ignore this, i can even ridicule him without fear of reprisal. But a more important person, a very well respected person, who writes something immediately gets elevated above that. Your tone changes, you give more weighting to his comments, you don’t answer them in a natural way, you try to impress or in some cases befriend.

    The Internet gives people the chance to reinvent themselves online. A nervous and unconfident person can feel energised by the internet because they are anonymous, it’s a chance to start again. On Scilly I think this is even more profound in some ways.

    If you want to find out more then reference the work of Sherry Turkle.

    I think it’s absolutely essential to have an anonymous form of comment on events that affect the islands. How else would visitors have their say? I think it’s also important to not let an anonymous message board to dictate policy, but it’s a good starting point for discussion.

  2. Steveattri June 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    And whilst on the subject of inaccuracy – perhaps the TIC should update the simply scilly website with a new photo and their correct address.

  3. Steveattri June 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Erm 30/60 isn’t that 50%?

    • Kev Wright - final correction June 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Apologies – total should be other – as in the area of “shelter”. Plus I included the disabled toiled, thinking it was storage, as part of the TIC and not the shelter so it’s actually less space than I thought. So the total area of TIC – even though worded wrong with bad maths, is about as stated, if not less.

  4. Jeff Eastick June 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Sorry to see the end of Kev Wright on theses pages as the voice of reason is always welcomed , although totally understand his frustration of facing anonymous posts , where it is possible for others to post antagonistic comments whilst hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.Who was it said anonymity is the refuge of cowards ? Perhaps it was me.

  5. Kev Wright - final post June 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I’ve just been and measured the TIC. I took an extra metre around the area to be on the safe side. It measures – from the door – 8.5m in length and at its widest 3.5m. This gives it an area of 29.75 square metres. Bigger than it actually is because the other end is only 2m wide. But let’s say 30sqm to be on the safe side.

    The total building measures 17m in length by 3.6m at its widest. This gives a total area of 61.2Sqm. Let’s call it 60 to be on the safe side.

    That gives us 18% TIC – but let’s say 20% to be on the safe side. So we have 80% shelter.

    You could argue that as the TIC desk is quite long that it takes up that whole section of the building. It doesn’t. Opposite it are seats. The building can comfortably seat 28.

    I hope this helps give a better idea of the actual size – I had the staff witness my measurements by the way.

    Sheila I’m not in the business of falling out with people and I hope no personal vendettas are being created.

    When people are having to take time off work through stress and depression and employees of a certain organisation have allegedly been treated badly in the past, bickering over a few feet of TIC seems trivial. I’m glad the comments below showed visitors having a positive experience

    I’ll be more than happy to discuss any issues with you but I won’t be doing so on Scilly Today as this will be my final post in its current format.

    I’ve said all I have to say on most matters. It’s frustrating when you have people like Adam Morton, Dr Hessing, Linda and Ray Wornes trying to make constructive and useful points and then someone with an alias comes and drags the whole thing down.

    I’m sure I’ve been guilty of the odd stupid comment too. But at least people like me and Sheila make these using our real names.

    I’ve had aliases abusing me (subtly so no-one would notice) – yes you Yet Another Islander! Get your facts right before having a personal dig next time. If you’d like to discuss this further I can be contacted here –

    Putting “Dave” or “Sarah” or whatever is no different from putting Nobby Nobbs. You could be anyone. Even some supposed real people are aliases. I was told Jenny Green was when I asked who she was and nobody knew the name!

    We either need total free speech on here – which would lead to carnage and lawyers being involved – or a system whereby you register your real name by verifying a real email address and sign in to comment. Then the forum would be used as it should be. Anonymous comments will of course be needed in some instances – so perhaps a form for these could be provided and the reason for remaining anonymous could be given (but not publicly disclosed).

    From the outside it must seem like Scillonions are bitter, egotistic and live on a diet of sour grapes. I’d like to say this isn’t the case but in many cases it is – as this forum is proving. I can’t be good for tourism in its current format.

    Keri and Andy do a great job of reporting the news here, it’s a shame it gets ruined by what often goes underneath.

    Frankly, the way I see it is that Scilly is currently a community that doesn’t want to be helped – it wants to fight. We need to work together and embrace change, otherwise we’re up the creek without a paddle.

    Hopefully the new council will work towards this. They’re off to a good and best of luck to them and to Scilly Today.

    A Bientot.

  6. Neil June 25, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Perhaps a comment from an actual tourist could inform this heated discussion. Despite being American, we managed to find our way to Scilly, including 3 flights, and multiple changes between terminals, and types of transport. So, finding the TIC on Pothcressa was well within our capacity and it was fun to go there. The people were very kind and helpful. Frankly, it gave us a reason to see that part of town and we ended up eating at Dibble & Grubb twice as a result.

    • A visitor June 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Take note of this comment! Surely a Tourist Information Centre is there for TOURISTS and a shelter is for said TOURISTS who don’t have a home on Scilly to go to when it rains. As a frequent visitor I find a lot of the comments on this site very negative and perhaps the opinion of someone who has used this facility (like Neil) should be the one that matters. Neil has made a good point about discovering new parts of town. What can you discover if you use the old site? The Co-Op?

  7. Sheila Thomas June 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Gosh Kev, how can you say most of the shelter is a shelter?
    The Tic have taken over from the side door right up to disabled doopr, more than 2/3 of the room and visitors actually using the sherlter as intended, are left with the narrow round bit on the end. Sorry, not on.

    • Kev Wright June 24, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Well I didn’t measure it, but from what I could see (and I’ll look again tomorrow) the TIC were taking up the narrow end and the seating was from over halfway across and went around the wider, more circular end. There was room in there for everyone the other day anyway!

  8. Sheila Thomas June 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Kev, I hope you haven’t been duped by the photos on facebook. Is it just a coincidence that when the camera was around there were more people inside that building than there has been all week?

    • Kev Wright June 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Hi Sheila,

      No I went in there myself yesterday to look for an iPod lead that my son had lost walking along the top of the beach (if anyone’s seen one? It’s a black one…). It was busy when I went in there and it was busy outside, lots of people milling around. My first comment was published on here before the Facebook photos were published.

      It seemed as busy as the TIC in the main street was. Like I said – I agree with you that this was all done in the wrong way and it should be open in the evenings, but yesterday it seemed to be functioning fine!

      • Pat Hicks June 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        Don’t think the point is about the tic working well at the shelter that’s good , what I myself is not happy with is that it is not open as a shelter anymore. !! where the visitors and locals alike can use when the weather is not very good.
        FIRST AND FORMOST 60/ 70% SHOULD BE USED AS A SHELTER 9am TO 9pm, .. AND THE REST YES FINE T I C. and don’t fill it with a load of carp ??. …. COME ON SORT YOUR SELFES OUT. ITS NOT BLEEDY ROCKET SCIENCE. ha ha .

        • Kev Wright June 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

          That’s exactly what I said Pat. It’s fine during the day – and most of the building is a shelter. The “carp” was quite handy for visitors to read. But yes it DOES need to be open until 9pm.

          What worked quite well on Saturday was that people went there looking for shelter because they didn’t know what else to do and were given pointers are to other activities (art studios, some of which do courses and so on) that they could use in poor weather. So in that respect it’s an ideal spot!

  9. Kev Wright June 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Just a personal update on the TIC.

    I’ve just been in there on a blustery Saturday afternoon (no I wasn’t lost, it was to ask about some lost property) and the place was thriving! People were using it to get information from the desk and also people were sat at the other end using it as a shelter. There were loads of people around the building!

    So – regardless of whether it *should* be a shelter only and problems with evening openings (these are two different matters which need addressing, particularly the evening opening) or the underhand methods used by the council to locate the TIC there – people seemed to have no problem finding the place and were using it for both of its current purposes. It was working well!

    The staff were very helpful too.

    • Kev Wright June 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      And as I can’t respond on Facebook (I don’t have a personal profile) can I also point out that contrary to one suggestion posted below a photo showing the TIC on there – there was plenty of room to sit down at the other end of the building and many people were doing so! I’m sure some of them were glad to have stands there with some booklets and brochures on to read too!

      Looking at it today the only problems I can see are that evening opening is needed and the council had no right to place the TIC in that building without proper consultation. But as far as I could see the building was working fine.

  10. Sheila Thomas June 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Sorry Kev, will answer as best I can. If the TIC worked well in Porthcressa why was it moved to the Wesleyan Chapel? Like you, the first many Councillors found out about the move because of the map on the quay – hopefully things will now change. The idea of moving the TIC to the Schiller Shelter was put to the P&R Committe in February and Chairman of Council, Mike Hicks and Cllr Dudley Mumford were both against the move and it was minuted that the move went to public consultation. Public consultation was limited by council officers to TIC workers, Steamship Co (no names), Clive at the Papershop, Gaz at the Deli & Ginger Jim and this in only an informal way. So now is the time for the people of Scilly to have their say rather than being “duped” by council officers again.

    • Kev Wright June 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks Sheila,

      As far as I was aware at the time, it was moved to the Wesleyan Chapel as the council were trying to move as much to the new building as possible and it had more space, plus the old shelter was beginning to look a little worse for wear. I think we can all agree that idea backfired as it was particularly difficult to find!

      I think that, given the island’s unique location and differences between mainland destinations (varying plane and boat times, boat trips affected by tides, certain islands having some eating places, galleries etc closed on certain days, limited shops, cafes, pubs, B&B spaces and so on) that a manned TIC is essential.

      What’s needed NOW is what should have been what happened in the first place – a public consultation. It seems someone at the council went behind the councillors’ backs and that can’t be allowed to happen again.

  11. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee! June 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

    One has to ask if a manned TIC is necessary at all! A few countries are going down the computerized, unmanned information kiosks instead of a dedicated center. Take a look at products from this site for example If the Islands Tourism Partnership group update these machine on a daily basis with boating information, events, travel disruptions etc… then everything will be available to that person(s) at the touch of their finger tips! You could have a few of these dotted around the islands at key points, they will all be interlinked to each other and synchronised from a central location with up-to-date information as and when it arrives. If that particular user cannot find the information they require then a freephone number can be included (or a built in handset) to speak to a real person (say in the town hall reception?).

    Obviously one has to carry out surveys to find out what the most common request for information is, how much money is taken by the TIC etc… But this could be a step into the future and using technology that improves the tourists experience here on the islands.

    At least that way it will end the dilemma of where a TIC should be located, as it seems no where is the right location!

  12. jenny green June 17, 2013 at 9:27 am

    What a sad way to respect the 335 lives lost from the wreak of the Schiller. I feel quite ashamed. Is that how the Islands what to be viewed by our visitors? A community divided about the original concept of a,’ gift of shelter’. I believe we do require a TIC, we also need to respect the heritage of these Isles.

  13. Kev Wright June 17, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Could I please ask this again as nobody answered the first time?

    If the TIC used to be in the town hall (which I can’t remember) and was then moved to Porthcressa (which I can and it worked well there) then what were the reasons for doing so?

    If the town hall was the perfect location, why was it moved?

    I’ll also reiterate that even in the middle of town people couldn’t find the place, so where it is now is no less difficult to locate – perhaps even easier as people seem to gravitate towards Porthcressa anyway.

    I agree with Carmen that PC is a good location – history proves so – but I definitely think the shelter needs to be open in the evening.

    Also – if it was known in advance that there was to be a planned move to PC (see my post below) then why couldn’t a separate area have been built into the plans to house it?

    I’d feel awkward going to eat my chips in someone’s office!

  14. Sheila Thomas June 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I think a lot of people are missing the point – the new Schiller Shelter was built as a new for old shelter for visitors and islanders alike to enjoy especially in inclement weather, however council officers have taken it over as yet another office space using the TIC’s presence as an anti-vandalism deterrent as their excuse. We do need a shelter for our visitors especially on days like today when the Shelter was locked at 2p.m. and Carmen, you obviously don’t walk along Porthcressa front in the evenings when there are a lot of visitors sitting huddled in the alcoves, how much better for them to be out of the wind and still enjoy the scenery. The TIC can still perform in other premises in town ie the Town Hall, just give back the shelter to the people.

  15. Carmen Stevens June 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I believe the TIC is in the right location. The Porthcressa Shelter was not originally funded by the German governement as a fish and chip shelter. TIC staff have a dual role – along with their help and advice to visitors they are able to ensure it is kept clean and tidy for all to use. The shelter does not need to be open in the evenings.

  16. Agnes Nitt June 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Is this building still called the “Schiller Shelter”? If so will I be able to go sit init and enjoy the view without being harassed by TIC stafff?

  17. jenny green June 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Whether an office has a view is irrelevant to the discussion.
    In my view, excuse the pun, the questions are:
    Do the Islands require a TIC…….?
    If yes, where should this be located…?
    What options are affordable and sustainable (stand alone office, shared venue) ?
    Does St Mary’s require a purpose built shelter?
    If yes…….is Porthcressa Shelter the answer?
    If yes, then how do the community work together ti make this option affordable and sustainable?
    The eventual end product will not have 100% of the community in agreement, but it could be a working, affordable compromise.

  18. Beo Campbell June 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    As a mere visitor to the island, and a big fan, I cant understand why there is such negativity about a Tourism Information Centre, when 70%+ of the islands income comes from this source , this is the shop window for your islands once visitors arrive, it needs to be a professionally run service, supported and nurtured by tourism businesses on the island. Having a modern , well presented and staffed tourism centre is a huge benefit in my eyes. Also having used the library that closes at 12 for the afternoon surely there must be some cross over that can be created to ensure there is a 9 – early evening service in season. Why cant people rally behind making the centre a sustainable success and help find solutions rather than create problems ?

    • Kev Wright June 16, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      Hear hear! Let’s make the most of facilities and listen to the visitors! We’re like a bunch of bitter old women bickering at the moment.

      And shouldn’t we check with the German people who funded the shelter exactly what they want to do with it? It is theirs after all!

      It needs to be open in the evening when most people will use whatever the case.

      It MUST have been known that the shelter was planned for use as a TIC long before April if it appeared on maps printed before then like on the quay. So either the senior officers and councillors (some of whom are leaving or no longer have seats) must have known about this plan?

      If they didn’t then this shows another very worrying lack of communication within our council under the “old regime”. Another reason for a change in the system.

      It shouldn’t be us deciding, it should be the visitors. It’s them who use such facilities and the reason we’ve had all that money spent!

  19. Sheila Thomas June 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Happy chappy – don’t know who you are, too cowardly to put your real name to your stupid comments. You are obviously not aware of the hard work that Amanda is doing as Chairman, just because it is not “seen” . In her 3 weeks as Chair there is a lot of work going on between her and Barry Keel in the Town Hall as well as her public engagements. If you think you can do a better job then stand for Council and call for a by-election on Bryher.
    Well said Jenny Green, the council officers wanted the easy option for the TIC premises so they usurped the new with a view, Schiller Shelter.

  20. jenny green June 16, 2013 at 8:23 am

    St Marys has few if any free indoor facilities. The Porthcressa shelter is one option for ‘shelter’ for both off-islanders not wanting to hang about in the rain waiting for the boat back home and for visitors wanting to sit inside without digging deep in their pockets for beverages etc. A rota of volunteers is a great way of using the third sector to support essential community facilities and it reduces the risk of Porthcressa Shelter being vandalized. The I.O.S Council have offices scattered all over St Mary’s and the one indoor purpose built facility for residents and visitors has been taken as another office space. The registry office at the end of Pothcressa is not used every hour of the the working day, why can’t this be better sign-posted and used as a joint venue, to include TIC information. The museum could also be a potential shared venue, reducing cost.
    It was an easy option to take the Porthcressa Shelter and not thought through.

  21. Ian T. June 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I think Sheila has the more practical and sensible solution. Getting people to ‘volunteer’ for anything these days is not easy especially to cover every evening, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. I you willing to do your part Grey Hound? Once a week would seem reasonable.

  22. bishop rock June 16, 2013 at 7:46 am

    TIC should be where it was before!!!! The shelter was built for the people to sit in not a council office.

  23. Sheila Thomas June 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I have already volunteered to lock the SHELTER up at 9p.m. but because of all the TIC stuff in the shelter this is not acceptable.

  24. happy chappy June 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Put bluntly, Amanda, you need to take a leaf out of Barry Keel’s book and get on with the job.

    I for one am disappointed with your performance to date.

    Otherwise ?

  25. Sheila Thomas June 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Sorry Amanda, not good enough. You admit the building was built as a shelter, thht is what Councillors passed plans for, not another council office to house the TIC. The council has spent £4million+ on enhancing the visitors experience on Porthcressa, then the one buildiong which was primarily for their use has now been “hijacked” by council officers and visitors have the crumbs left at the narrow end of the room. If the TIC staff answer honestly, they will tell you that there is not the number of people going into the building as when on the main street. If vandalism is an issue?!! I suggest the inappropriate seating be removed, (who ever heard of light blue material seats in a public space!) and fixed seating put against the walls, we expect sand on the floor for goodness sake – the room is on top of a beach, and if really needed, security cameras could be installed cheaply (after all there is electricity in the building), this would then be an extra deterrant and we would know who the offenders were.

  26. happy chappy June 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Actions, Amanda, actions.

    Actions speak louder than words.

  27. Grey Hound June 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    If people are so concerned about it not being available to the public “Out of hours” why don’t they set up a volunteer rota to man it between 5 and 9. Do something, rather than whinge about things. Life seems to be full of people who think it is someone elses responsibility. Stop shunting this fantastic facility and staff around and simply solve the problem…. which is out of hours use!