VISITOR information centres (VICs) across the Cotswolds could have to close if grants from Cotswold District Council are withdrawn in the next financial year.
The VICs in Cirencester and Moreton-in-Marsh are directly funded by Cotswold District Council, but those in Bourton-on-the-Water, Tetbury, Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Campden are only partially funded by grants from the council.
In a written response to a question from Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem, Churn Valley) at last week's meeting of the Conservative-run cabinet asking what the cabinet's future plans were for VIC funding, cabinet member for customer services Cllr Barry Gibbs (Con, Tetbury) said he believed the grant-funded VICs would be unable to operate if the grants were removed.
Following initial discussions with community providers, I do not know consider it possible for the community-operated facilities to remain open without a minimum grant from the council,” he said.
“I shall therefore be seeking to agree with all providers a grant for formal considering by the cabinet that will secure the current services for the future.
He added there were no plans to change arrangements with the VICs in Cirencester and Moreton, and an overall strategy for the next financial year will be discussed at November's full meeting of the council.
Responding, Cllr Hodgkinson said he was concerned the cabinet was looking solely at cost saving.
“Your comment that the centres will have a minimum grant is very disturbing for such a highly valued service, especially when the Council is sitting on reserves of £27 million,” he said. “It worries me that by the time a decision is made, one of the sites mentioned may be out of business.”
When asked if footfall would be one of the deciding factors in reviewing grants given to the VICs, cabinet leader Cllr Lynden Stowe (Con, Campden-Vale) confirmed that it would.