On Thursday morning members of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Cabinet will meet to discuss cultural strategy and proposals over relocating Tourist Information Centre (TIC) and Restructuring the Tourist Information Service.
Two winters ago they trialled moving the TIC to the top of the town into Gateway (top photo), not a very effective move, so at least they don’t have to discuss that option; but there is an electronic terminal there, where information can be accessed (well, you can click on various pre-set websites).
The preferred plan is to move TIC from its central position in the Old Fishmarket, to one of the units in the Corn Exchange, Lower Walk of Pantiles (main entrance middle photo, entrance by car park bottom photo). Over the years the Corn Exchange has been a corn exchange, theatre, WW1 TA drill hall, and now converted into shopping units – for a while it housed the attraction “A Day At The Wells” (see anke.tw) in the cellar. The Marquess of Abergavenny bought the Lower Pantiles last February (2012) with plans to revitalise the area. A TIC electronic terminal is already installed in the Corn Exchange, and will continue to be in use. As well as moving the TIC to smaller premises, staff hours will be cut, so there will be less face to face contact.
I’m very aware that alot of people look up information through websites, and most things can be found at the touch of a phone button or screen. But there will always be questions that can not be answered by a machine, how ever you type the question in. I was quite horrified that the Visit Tunbridge Wells website holds very little information on town parks and open spaces! There is a fear that this move is the first nail in the coffin of face to face human contact. Of course, visitors can always ask local shops, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels for advice. However, when I was in Waterstone’s bookshop the same morning as taking these photos, a customer asked the assistant about other bookshops in the town. He was looking for somewhere that might sell out of print books. The assistant struggled, seeming to have a lack of knowledge about the town she was working in. While technology is lovely, and opens up a whole new world, sometimes we need to keep listening to people who have real interactive knowledge.
Council will also discuss improving our cultural strategy and bringing move visitors to Tunbridge Wells. Nuff said.
Please look back at previous two blogs for more information, Thanks!