Statement from trustees of Friends of Church Stretton Library
Our charity’s purpose, written into our constitution, is to support the provision of a community library and information centre in Church Stretton.
Support for the information centre was included in our constitution as we recognised its importance to local residents, as well as to supporting the local economy by attracting tourists into town.
We were surprised to discover that the current Town Council consultation on the Town Park asks people for their views about putting a Visitor Information Centre in the town park, together with a car park with an entrance from the A49.
The Visitor Information Centre is currently housed in the library in the centre of town. It used to be fully staffed and paid for by Shropshire council. A few years ago Shropshire Council slashed its tourism budget and cut its tourism staff almost completely. Church Stretton library staff agreed to absorb the work of the Visitor Information Centre at no additional cost, as they recognised its importance to the town.
The costs of running the Visitor Information centre in Church Stretton are therefore currently absorbed into the running costs of the library.
A new Visitor Information Centre would incur costs for building, maintenance (including energy bills), insurance and staffing.
No information is provided as a background to the Town Council’s consultation as to where the funding would come for a Visitor Information Centre in the town park.
We are also concerned that putting the Visitor Information Centre on a site by the A49 outside the main town would encourage motorists to park there, pick up some leaflets and then possibly drive elsewhere. Such visitors would not enter the town. Our Local shops, pubs and cafes rely on the tourism trade to remain in business.
We would urge the Town Council to temporarily withdraw this questionnaire until full background documentation can be provided. This documentation should, as a minimum, provide information on likely costs / benefits / impact on each of the substantive questions.
The town park survey is only available online – You can find it here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/community-messages1
Those without computer access can telephone 01694 722113 or write to the Town Council and ask for a paper copy of the survey.