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Anger at visitor centre closure

Carnforth Local Information Office volunteers and Chamber of Trade secretary Ray Parkinson who are annoyed at its closure.

Carnforth Local Information Office volunteers and Chamber of Trade secretary Ray Parkinson who are annoyed at its closure.

The volunteer run information centre in Carnforth has had to close due to a lack of funding.

The Carnforth Local Information Office (CLIO), based at the town’s railway station, received £8,000 from Lancaster City Council via Carnforth Chamber of Trade two years ago as part of the government’s Empty Shops Fund.

The grant paid for rental of the unit from Carnforth Station Trust, and a team of 15 volunteers ran the office seven days a week.

But the money, which was a one off payment, ran out a few weeks ago, and the centre had to close.

Volunteer Chris Leadbetter said the office had helped give advice and information to more than 11,000 people over the last 18 months.

He added: “Why is a very successful office which needs such a relatively small amount of money to keep going being allowed to shut? We get a lot of visitors and holiday makers here with the AONB, coastline, and all the local caravan parks. If Carnforth is able to demonstrate the viability of using willing local people to man the office, why is it that at least some of the cost of the other two offices (Lancaster and Morecambe) can’t be saved in such parlous financial times? So much for the Big Society.

“We have proved that it can work but that support is necessary to allow it to happen.”

Coun Ron Sands, cabinet member with responsibiltiy for tourism, said that when the funding was first agreed, it was made clear that when the money ran out, alternative funding streams would have to be identified.

He added: “We recognise the benefits the service provides and the considerable volunteer effort that supports it.

“We will continue to work with the organisation and are providing advice to support the future development of the centre.

“The council’s tourism marketing continues to highlight and promote all parts of the district, in partnership where appropriate.”

 

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