Two National Park visitor centres in north Northumberland are to close next year as partners have not been found to run them.
Northumberland National Park Authority has today announced that it has not been able to find partners to run its visitor centres in Rothbury and Ingram from 2013 and it regrets that they are now to close.
Following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review of public services in 2010, the grant allocated to Northumberland National Park Authority’s annual budget was cut by 33 per cent over a four-your period with effect from March 2011.
The authority has had to reprioritise its work areas and allocate budget accordingly, putting in place a budget reduction strategy which has included the loss of 25 per cent of authority staff.
As part of this strategy, the authority also made the difficult decision to divest from Rothbury and Ingram from March 2013, but would allow a period of two years to find alternative means of delivering those services.
Following an open invitation for expressions of interest, detailed discussions took place with businesses and community groups but no agreement was able to be reached in the timescale.
Sadly, this means that when both visitor centres close at the end of this season, they will not be able to be reopened.
The authority is leaving no stone unturned to find alternative ways of providing visitor information and welcome in the north of the National Park.
It already has information point arrangements with a number of businesses and TiCs in the area and is actively looking to extend and develop this network. New arrangements will be announced in the near future.
John Riddle, chairman of the National Park Authority, said: “We understand the importance of tourism to rural communities and businesses and are still committed to providing a welcome to visitors across the whole of the National Park as our resources allow.
“We are very saddened to have to close two award-winning visitor centres.
“We are looking very hard at alternative ways of providing an effective visitor information service and have not closed the door to any new suggestions people may wish to put forward to us.”