Save Newport Visitor and Information Centre
Newport Visitor Centre

This is the website of the Newport Visitor Centre Action Group: "Saving the Information Centre for the Community!"

The Action Group was formed in October 2016 at a Community Meeting, in response to the threatened closure by the National Park of the building on Long Street, replacing this with other ways of delivering visitor information. See history.

You can still sign the petition!    (We have well over 1,200 signatures - thanks! But please keep them coming at this critical time)

URGENT NEWS

PARK AUTHORITY VOTES TO CLOSE CENTRE: On 27th September, the National Park Authority meeting voted to accept the recommendation, sprung upon us at the last moment, and close the Centre no later than 28th February. We were present at the meeting but not allowed to speak. None of the members present effectively presented our case; in fact most of the information we had sent was ignored – for example the fact that the Community Library Group, as lessees of their building, had written to the National Park insisting that the proposal to move the information centre into the library premises was unworkable and it should not be presented to Members, to be told that their view would be communicated to the Members. It was not. Instead he recommended it as the preferred option.  We feel very let down by the National Park. We will post more information on this site once we have considered our position.

Following the meeting we were sent the following press release, dated 27th September.

Newport Tourist Information Centre.   A Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority spokesperson commented: "At today’s (27 September) meeting of the National Park Authority, Members voted to close Newport Tourist Information Centre by the end of February 2018 and to refocus its visitor service provision in North Pembrokeshire. The Authority will now engage in discussions with Pembrokeshire County Council and the community of Newport to explore the option of delivering a joint library and tourism service at the existing library premises in Newport. A report on the future of the Authority’s building in Long Street, Newport, will be presented to a forthcoming meeting of the Authority.

The closure is now reported in the Tivy-Side Advertiser here, and the Western Telegraph here.

 

BOMBSHELL FROM NATIONAL PARK: CLOSURE PROPOSED AFTER ALL!   (19th Sept 17)

Notwithstanding the decision in February to work with the town to try to find a way to keep the visitor centre open, we have just seen the recommendation from Officers to the 27th September National Park Authority Meeting. This is that:

The report is complex, and our short summary above needs to be read along with the full report which can be seen here You can also read the report in the Tivy-Side Advertiser here.

This is all unfathomable to the Action Group, following on so quickly from the positive report on Newport Visitor Centre’s performance to the National Park Operational Review Committee (see the news below on 14th September) and months of meetings with the National Park Officers where we discussed ways to keep the service running.

It is most urgent that you write to the Chairperson of the National Park - Mrs Gwyneth Hayward, Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK SA72 6DY or email gwynethh@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk to express your views.


Report on activities since February

(Written before the new recommendations were published)

Since our last news, we have been working to produce a business plan for Newport Visitor Centre to meet the wishes of the community and visitors, as we understand them, and to satisfy National Park goals and requirements. Newport Visitor Centre Action Group’s resulting Preferred Option for the future of Newport Visitor Centre, can be found here together with a letter of explanation here.

The full National Park Authority will meet at 10 am on 27th September 2017 to receive a Report from the Director of Delivery and Discovery on the consultation process over the last year, to discuss proposals submitted by the community, including our Preferred Option, and to decide a way forward. The Report to that meeting should be on the National Park website one week beforehand.

Please support us by coming to the Authority’s meeting at the National Park Offices at Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock on 27th September Contact Sandra Bayes 01239 820889 if you will have space in your car or need a lift.

Please write to the Chairperson of the National Park - Mrs Gwyneth Hayward, Llanion Park, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK SA72 6DY or email gwynethh@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk- to express your views.

Proposals to be presented to the National Park Authority will include the status quo, the Visitor Centre Action Group’s Preferred Option and a Proposal from Newport Town Council.

Under the Action Group’s Preferred Option, the National Park will continue to own the building. We consider this essential in reflecting Newport’s strategic role and in supporting the economy within the North East of the National Park. The full Visitor Service with interpretive materials and merchandise sales will be run by the National Park from the building as now, but with the support of volunteers found by Newport Community Forum. The Office will continue to be an Outpost Facility for the National Park, but with shared community uses. Newport Community Library, which is already run in partnership with the County Council will move in to share the building and the Library Working Group will continue to manage its own volunteers. See a proposed plan of the building here.

The Action Group believes that our Preferred Option will be the best way for the National Park Visitor Service to be sustained into the future.

Under the Town Council’s alternative proposal, the Town Council seeks to own the building, with Newport Library Working Group providing volunteers to both the Library and the Visitor Service. The Library Group has recognised that the Town Council’s proposals suggest an attractive reduction in the library’s financial outgoings, including a promise of a subsidy from the Town Council, but have emphasised that they will not be involved in the merchandising side of the Visitor Service at all, and that support for the Town Council’s plan at this stage does not imply any commitments.

Newport Visitor Centre Action Group is concerned that the Town Council’s plan will mean the loss of the National Park’s physical presence in the Town, reduce the Visitor Service to a mere tourist information point over time, as found in other Pembrokeshire Libraries, losing the interpretation and merchandise space which is essential to its effectiveness and success.

Volunteers sought by Newport Visitor Centre Action Group

Newport Visitor Centre Action Group has been gathering names of those who are interested to volunteer to help in the National Park Visitor Service in future. If you are interested to become involved, please contact Sandra Bayes sandrabayes1@btinternet.com

LATEST NEWS

26th September: The Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park have written to all members of the Park Authority arguing for the Visitor Centre to be kept open and supporting our preferred option. See their letter. We know of many other letters sent by the community which also support our preferred option.

23rd September 2017: The closure is reported in the Tivy-Side Advertiser. Click to view.

14th September 2017: A Report on the work of the Action Group to date was delivered to Newport Community Forum AGM and can be viewed by clicking here.

6th September 2017: The National Park Operational Review Committee met to consider a Report by the Director of Delivery and Discovery – a review of the performance of Newport Visitor Centre over the last 3 years, produced in consultation with the Visitor Services Manager for North Pembrokeshire, Newport Centre’s Staff, the Performance and Compliance Coordinator and Finance Manager. The Report was strikingly positive - you can see a copy by clicking here. 3 members of the Action Group travelled to Pembroke Dock to observe the response of Members.

20th August 2017: Newport Visitor Centre wrote to Newport Town Council to explain and deliver Newport Visitor Centre Action Group’s Preferred Option for the future of the Visitor Centre. This letter and a copy of the Preferred Option can be found here. These documents were delivered to the National Park

14th August 2017: Members of the Action Group went to Pembroke Dock to discuss possible ways in which the group could cooperate with the National Park in future in running the Visitor Service, reducing costs whilst incorporating more community activities in the building, particularly the Community Library.

11th July 2017: The BBC Wales Investigative Series "Week In, Week Out" asked whether Welsh Authorities were supporting visitors adequately and questioned if this was one reason Tourism in Wales is performing relatively poorly. Comparisons were made with Scotland which has far more visitor centres and other facilities. Businesses talked about how their trade dropped when Visitor Centres closed. This programme provides strong evidence that it would be very foolish to close the Newport Visitor Centre. We recommend that all involved in making this decision should watch this video - it is available until July 2018 on the BBC iPlayer www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08xd37v/ or go to the iPlayer, search for "Week In Week Out" and locate the TV programme called "Wish You Were Here".

Older news has been moved to the NEWS page.

SUMMARY

Read our history page for more background details.

This site will be updated with more information as we get it.

Last updated 3rd Oct 2017