This is the website of the Newport Visitor Centre Action Group - "Saving the Information Centre for the Community!"
5th October 2016 The town first learnt of the plan to close the Newport Visitor Centre via an article in the Western Telegraph.
It was on the same day that a Report from a National Park Task and Finish Group was delivered to the Park Authority with the recommendation to consult on a proposal "to change the way information services are delivered in Tenby and Newport in order to invest in a package of new initiatives aimed at supporting the growth of the wider visitor economy in Pembrokeshire".
It now transpires that that National Park Group had been meeting for months, but without consulting local residents, local holiday businesses (of all types) or indeed visitors themselves.
The recommendation was agreed unanimously by the Members.
That report can be found on the National Park website by clicking here.
As a result of witnessing the meeting, the Western Telegraph website is now running an article, headed, "Closure of National Park Visitor Centres Likely to be Confirmed." This can be seen by clicking this link.
By questioning the Visitor Centre staff, it was discovered that the "Consultation" for Newport will consist of a 2hr public meeting in Newport Memorial Hall on Tuesday 18th from 6 p.m. One or 2 posters have since been put up in Town, stating that the meeting will "discuss proposals to change the way that information services are delivered in Newport". The Western Telegraph, not the National Park itself, reports that the consultation period will run till 31st October. A decision will be made on Newport Visitor Centre’s future in November.
Our small Visitor and Information Centre does an excellent job for visitors (It came top in the whole of Wales last year in a survey for Visit Wales in terms of footfall, telephoned and e-mailed support to visitors). It costs the National Park very little to run (£21,000 out of a total spend annually on its 5 centres of £471,000). It serves this unique Welsh speaking northern area of the National Park, which is quite different from the south, in a way that Fishguard and Cardigan Local Authority-run Centres have not, and cannot hope to do. It displays information, not just on Newport, but for businesses over the wide hinterland. It is in a prime position to spread the word about local events. The small office and meeting room facility is well used by National Park staff to save the long commute to HQ in Pembroke Dock and for them to meet with local people. It saves local people from making that long trip themselves to view planning and other National Park documents. Community Groups use the meeting space. Local craftsman and artisans display and sell work here and this is much enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. All these extra activities help to bring the Park and community together towards a much needed mutual understanding and more should be made of the opportunities offered by this ideally located building, designed to be fully accessible, to exploit this.
The Director of Delivery and Discovery has been aware for some time that the newly formed Newport Community Library is interested to move into the building, that the group has offered to cooperate in delivery of information to visitors, and wishes to expand its own information provision on local community activities, on local services for health and wellbeing (an area which Newport and District Community Forum members would also like to support), but also into information on small business start-ups and employment. The current rented library premises are too small to accommodate such aspirations.
The Authority says "it is keen to move away from a traditional Visitor Centre model of service delivery by investing in an exciting package of new initiatives" – "Parkwise" (training staff in businesses to provide visitor information); "Naturally Connected" (awareness raising about biodiversity amongst businesses); "Seasonal Pop-up Events"; "Tourism Ambassador Scheme"(by training individuals); "Interpretation Materials" to be provided to small businesses - that will be delivered in partnership with the local tourism trade and local community organisations (though it has yet to consult them about these plans). It adds that "this can only be achieved" by "consolidating PCNPA’s existing portfolio of premises" which includes selling the Newport premises thus saving its small annual running cost.
A further consideration is that a Newport resident left her house to the National Park at the time that the new Visitor Centre was created here. The house was sold and the proceeds were used for the refurbishment and improvement of the Newport Visitor Centre. Many people think it is wrong that these funds should now be leaving Newport.
We have obtained a copy of the will and while there are no legally enforceable conditions, it is clear that the resident wanted the funds to be spent for the benefit of the local community, possibly by housing a National Park warden in the town.
If these plans go ahead the changes will be implemented before next tourist season!
Last updated 9th Feb 2017