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!"

NEWS

This page contains an archive of News Items that once appeared on the main home page.

 

28th September: 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.

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 proposed closure is reported in the Tivy-Side Advertiser. Click to view.

19th September 2017. BOMBSHELL FROM NATIONAL PARK: CLOSURE PROPOSED AFTER ALL!   

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.

 

20th September 2017 Report on activities since February (Written before the new recommendations were published)

Since our last update, 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.

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".

12th February 2017: At the National Park Authority Meeting on 1st February, the recommendation

was accepted by the full Park Authority.

This gives us more time to work to find a solution that will keep the visitor service open in the building into the future.

This is a victory for the Community and the many people who have supported this campaign, but the centre will still close in October 2017 unless a solution can be found. We are continuing to work for the continuance of the Visitor Centre. In the meantime meetings will be held to see if a plan can be reached for the Newport Town Council to acquire the building and for a management group of users, including the Naitonal Park and Newport Community Library, to run it.

24th January 2017: We have held meetings with James Parkin, PCNPA Director of Delivery and Discovery and he is now recommending to the National Park Authority Meeting due to take place on 1st February that the Newport Visitor Centre remains open for the 2017 season. This is to allow more time for a solution to be found. Full details, including discussion of the possible acquisition of the Building by Newport Town Council and its use as a shared community facility, can be found in his report, available by clicking here.

21st December 2016: The Action Group is meeting with the Director of Delivery and Discovery at the beginning of January. We are working together to reach a solution whereby we retain the Visitor Centre in the building.

6th December 2016: A meeting was held by the Action Group with James Parkin, Director of Delivery and Discovery, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. We are being put under pressure to agree a solution, which appears to involve the Park divesting themselves of the building, by February 2017. We continue to argue strongly for retention of the building by the National Park, and object to the short timescales. Watch this space for more news.

30th November 2016: VISITOR CENTRE CLOSURE WAS DISCUSSED BY THE FULL AUTHORITY.
Our representatives attended this meeting. Given the overwhelming opposition the NPA voted to postpone any decision on the closure of the centre. The proposal is now for further discussions, with the clear intention of a "long term solution" that does (we believe) include closing the building. It was made very clear that meaningful progress towards a long term solution would need to be made by the February NPA meeting.

The Action Group will meet shortly to decide how to respond.

The meeting discussed this latest report on "Tourist Information Provision". While the officers are now recommending an extended consultation period, there is very little said about Newport. Justice is not given to the strength of feeling about possible closure and arguments that have been submitted for retention of the existing service are not explained. Whilst we welcome the extended consultation proposed this time we want to make sure that there is a proper dialogue with the community, visitors and businesses and it appears that the consultation is already limited by a determination on the part of the Authority not to take a lead role and not to manage the Newport building in future.

MORE TIME FOR CONSULTATION: The extended consultation means that you can still write to give your own views to the authority (and sign our petition) if you haven't already done so. Please write to the Authority - contact details here or at the end.
We are publishing two letters written by our supporters to Mike James (Chair, PCNPA)
Click to view letter 1 or you can Click here to view letter 2. These may assist you.

November 15th: A meeting with James Parkin (Director of Delivery and Discovery and advisor to the Task and Finish Group responsible for the new plans) has been postponed. We have therefore written the following three letters primarily to clearly state our position that the Centre should not be closed and also to ask for adequate time and proper consultation with the local community with the objective of finding ways to keep the Centre open. You can read these letters be clicking the links:
1) Letter to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority (PCNPA)
2) Letter to James Parkin (Chair of the Task and Finish Group)
3) Letter from our chair, Lady Mary Hallinan, to Tegryn Jones, PCNPA Chief Executive

FULL NATIONAL PARK COMMITTEE IS NOW TO HANDLE THE ISSUE: We have been told that the possible Visitor Centre closures have been passed to the main National Park Authority (NPA) Committee for a decision. It could be as soon as 30th November. We are unclear when or how the closures will now be handled. As soon as we have more information we will post it here.

MEETING WITH Paul Davies (Assembly Member). Newport representatives met with our local Welsh Assembly member on 4th November. He has told us that he is going to talk to Tegryn Jones “highlighting both the excellent work that the Visitors’ Centre in Newport is delivering and the genuine concerns of the local community regarding the proposals” and pressing for a proper dialogue/consultation. View a letter to Paul Davies that one of our group has written on our behalf.

ACTION GROUP FORMED: At the meeting on Tuesday 1st November, the 40 people present voted unanimously (with 1 abstention) to form an action group. The objectives of this group are "to investigate, challenge and oppose closure of the National Park Visitor Centre in Newport". More information on this group can be seen in this press release (issued 5th November 2016).

Please read this consultation response, now endorsed at a recent Newport Town Council meeting. In addition a copy of the petition (with 914 signatures) was given to Mike James on 31st October.

30th October: The Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park have written to Mike James (Chairman, PCNP) with a strong and well argued objection to the plans. Read a copy.

29th October: A letter, written by Sandra Bayes to the Western Telegraph, has been published. It points out that, in our view, the Park Members have not been given adequate and appropriate information about Newport Visitor Centre nor have they voted for the closure of the Newport Centre amongst other items. Read it by clicking here.

26th October: Western Telegraph Article gives a summary of the Public Meeting on 26th October. Click here to see it.

22nd October: What is going on? We think that the Park is giving out conflicting information. A letter has been sent to Tegryn Jones pointing this out, and trying to establish what they are consulting on. Click here to view a copy. We have received no reply. Are they consulting on closing the Visitor Centre or not? The staff have been told the Centre is to close.

Last updated 13th Nov 2017