YESTERDAY evening I attended, with several other Blue Badge Guides, an open meeting of the Services Committee of Salisbury City Council. Under discussion was a proposal to relocate the visitor information centre from its current long-standing position in the Guildhall, to a shared space with Shopmobility in The Maltings.

I am of the opinion that it is particularly important that a city like Salisbury that relies heavily on tourism has an excellent, centrally-located visitor information centre as now. No amount of researching online in advance can replace an on-the-spot chat with an enthusiastic person who really knows the city and its environs. Salisbury has always been attractive to visitors since pilgrims and merchants started coming here when the city was founded in1220. In two years time, when we celebrate the 800th anniversary of both the city and the Cathedral, we hope and expect there will be more visitors, who will want to know the best places to eat and shop, find banks and attractions and spend money which is so important to the local economy.

The plans are far advanced to open a meet-and-greet service at the Guildhall (not open seven days a week), with more in-depth enquiries being dealt with in the Maltings, in a less-easy to find corner. I can see many flaws in these plans and strong doubts were expressed at the meeting by some councillors as to whether or not the hoped for saving of money will really take place. There was even a vague promise that “if it doesn’t work we can change things again” which of course would mean more expenditure. There is also concern as to what will happen when and if The Maltings is redeveloped.

I appreciate the need for more office space for Salisbury City Council but very much hope that this will not be to the detriment of the excellent Salisbury Information Centre. The manager and staff do a huge amount to welcome and inform the visitors who arrive in Salisbury from all over the world – the knowledge team who keep the office open seven days a week, make a big contribution to keeping the wheels of commerce turning.

If this move takes place, the welcome to visitors who bring a large amount of money into the city will be much diminished.

Penny May