I have just returned to Australia after some weeks visiting family and friends in Derbyshire and - despite jet lag and the last minute Christmas rush – I feel compelled to write and express my concern at the proposed closure of the Tourist Information Centre in Matlock’s Crown Square.
My sister and family have lived in Matlock for more than 45 years and I have been a frequent visitor my whole life. I have wonderful childhood memories of the Venetian Nights at Matlock Bath, the Boxing Day Raft Race, the wild and beautiful moors, the well-dressings; and each time I come back I find many more activities and places to see in lovely Derbyshire.
Despite more than 30 years in Australia, it is the one place in England I always return to; and on each visit I call in to the Tourist Information Centre.
It is conveniently situated in Crown Square, it is a relaxed and comfortable place to browse, buy books and gifts from the local area, and the staff have always been friendly and helpful, able to answer questions and provide advice.
I am no Luddite, and I acknowledge that there is tourist information available on various websites. Material on one site states that Matlock is a “vibrant centre for shopping and tourism.” Part of a town’s vibrancy is surely the people with whom one comes in contact.
During this last visit I noticed the increase in shopping, cafe and restaurant facilities in the town and I have also noticed a marked improvement in customer service during recent years. No websites provide such a warm welcome!
The new toilet block in the Park, the alteration to the bridge to ease congestion, and the ARC Leisure Centre show that Matlock’s planners are improving facilities, both for residents and for Matlock’s continued development as a tourist centre; and despite the chilly weather there seemed to be plenty of visitors and walkers around.
Older visitors or holidaymakers do not necessarily have immediate access to the internet but may need up to date information on activities, tours etc at short notice. I have travelled to many countries both on business and for holidays and a local tourist information office is always invaluable. Rather than sending people to Bakewell for tourist information, why not encourage them to stay and spend their money in Matlock!
I am aware that in the current economic climate cost cutting measures by local government may be necessary. However, I feel strongly that the closure of the Tourist Information Centre would be a retrograde step and would not benefit the town. I urge you to reconsider this decision.