Seahouses tourist centre building forced to close

Seahouses Harbour
Seahouses Harbour

The building which houses Seahouses Tourist Information Centre has had to be closed due to defects leading to health and safety concerns.

A recent inspection by building officers found defects that lead to significant health and safety risks, and they have recommended that the building should be closed.

The prefabricated building is more than 30 years old and, while maintenance has been carried out, its coastal location leaves it open to extreme weather conditions and it is showing significant signs of wear and tear.

Tourism staff at Active Northumberland are working closely with the local county councillor, North Sunderland Parish Council and local businesses to consider alternative arrangements that will secure the provision of a tourist information service over the main tourist season.

The centre has only been open at weekends during the off-season, but was due to open full-time from April onwards.

Customer notices have been placed at the centre signposting visitors to both online sources of information and to the next nearest tourist information centres, at Craster and Alnwick.

David Hall, chairman of Active Northumberland, said: “It is very regrettable that we have had to close the tourist information centre building and want to assure visitors and local businesses that we are working quickly so that we can continue to provide a good-quality tourist information service for the 2017 season.

“Unfortunately, the building is no longer fit for purpose and it would take time and considerable resources to bring it up to an acceptable standard for the safety and welfare of staff and customers.

“We are working with the community and businesses in the town to secure a suitable location or arrangements that will allow us to provide the level of service that visitors have come to expect at Seahouses Tourist Information Centre.”

Uncertainty around the future of the building was raised at the parish council meeting earlier this month.

Jeff Sutheran, who runs St Cuthbert’s House B&B in Seahouses and is chairman of the North Northumberland Tourism Association, described the news as ‘very distressing’ and ‘not a great signal to send’.

“It creates a very negative impression when thousands of people park in that car park and see that the tourist information centre is closed,” he said. “It’s not very welcoming and for many people, the tourist information centre is a vital part of their business.

“The county council must clearly understand the importance of the tourism industry, it’s the lifeblood of this area. It may be a discretionary service, but it’s vitally important so we want to work with the county council to see what can be done.

“If we start depleting resources from tourism then we deplete one of the main industrial resources of the region.”