Tourist information centres in Stowmarket and Lavenham set to close

Stowmarket's TIC is at the Museum of East Anglian Life
Stowmarket's TIC is at the Museum of East Anglian Life

The tourist information centres in Stowmarket and Lavenham are set to close after the current tourism season, with the future of their staff uncertain.

The Stowmarket one at the Museum of Anglian Life and Lavenham office in Lady Street are among several tourist information centres (TIC) earmarked for closure this autumn by Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.

It is understood the aim is to save £150,000, and that 11 paid jobs may be lost between the two TICs.

Stowmarket town clerk David Blackburn said: “The Town Council is concerned about the potential impact of plans to close the tourist information centre at the end of the current season.

“Consequently, we would encourage the district council to consider all possible options for the future use of the building in liaison with the board of the Museum of East Anglian Life, who may wish to take this opportunity to review access arrangements.”

Museum director Jenny Cousins said Mid Suffolk Council’s TIC is a tenant at the museum.

She added: “We have had a long and supportive relationship with Mid Suffolk District Council, who have delivered ticket sales on the museum’s behalf for many years.

“We have worked closely with their staff to provide a service which is seamless to our visitors. We understand the budgetary pressures the council is facing and that this decision was taken by elected members.

“The challenge for the museum is to find a way of securing the funding to make it possible for us to continue to offer an excellent front of house service and attract more visitors to the area.”

Opposition councillors at Babergh described closing Lavenham’s TIC as ‘short-sighted and silly’.

But Cllr John Ward, Babergh District Council’s leader, said: “We’ve got to ask whether a fixed TIC in Lavenham meets the changing needs of our visitors, or whether there are other options that will better help visitors.

“That’s a conversation we want to further with our local partners and visitor destinations.”

Carroll Reeve, chairman of Lavenham Parish Council, said they were not warned of the decision but are committed to working with Babergh on alternatives.

He added:“I’m confident that alternative arrangements can be put in place, but they won’t replace what’s there now.”