News Release 07 May 2016 – Campaign Launch
A group of local Whitby residents and business people have launched a campaign to Fight4Whitby against the proposed closure of the Whitby Tourist Information Centre and inadequate maintenance of the town’s historic piers and harbour.
Around half a million visitors use the Whitby Tourist Information Centre (TIC) every year. The much-loved town has collected a string of tourism accolades over recent years, including being voted the 5th most popular UK destination for 2016 in a recent poll.
A recent tourism survey showed that tourism is the town’s major source of income. Well over 3 million visitors are estimated to bring £158 million a year into the local economy and support an estimated 2,700 jobs in the town. The local staff in the TIC provide an efficient, knowledgeable, friendly face to face service to visitors from all over the world. Yet Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) plans to dispose of the site, which they describe as a “key retail opportunity” at the heart of the town.
SBC maintains that Tourist Information Centres are no longer needed since visitors now access information from the internet and mobile devices. Yet Staithes and other villages around Whitby have no mobile phone coverage. After strenuous protests, SBC modified its plans and now proposes to offer a minimal tourism service at alternative premises near the present site. Local tourism interests say this is wholly inadequate.
SBC also propose to build and rent out an additional 9 kiosks on the already overcrowded Pier Road, completely blocking the views of the Abbey and harbour. The kiosks are on harbour land, but will be retail outlets unrelated to harbour activities. Locals argue that harbour land should be reserved for for its intended purposes – including encouraging trawlers to once again land fish in Whitby. Trawler owners say they cannot get into the harbour at present because of inadequate dredging and the lack of facilities.
Whitby’s famous piers provide essential protection for the harbour and the historic town, which clusters around the harbour. An engineering assessment in 2009 warned SBC that the piers could fail within 10 years, putting some 500 homes and businesses at risk. The Environment Agency offered to fund half the cost of repairs but SBC say they cannot afford the other half.
The large public car parks on harbour land in Whitby generate a very substantial profit every year, but SBC takes that income into its general coffers. Locals argue that if the car park income had been ring-fenced for re-investment in the harbour, it would have paid for the desperately-needed repairs to the piers.
John Freeman, a former Mayor of Whitby and the Chair of the Whitby and District Tourism Association, said “For many Whitby folk the proposed closure of the TIC is the final straw. The people of Whitby are unhappy about the neglect inflicted on the harbour, a valuable and crucial asset of the town. Please give your support and help fund our action to fight this decision.”
As well as this website, Fight4Whitby is also on Facebook.
Fight4Whitby is mounting a legal challenge to the closure of the TIC and to make sure that the income from harbour land is ring-fenced for harbour use. Donations are invited from lovers of Whitby world-wide to help fund the campaign, to conserve the attractions of this wonderful town for the enjoyment of future generations of visitors.
Please donate via this website. You can also sign the Save Whitby TIC petition at: