MIDHURST is at the heart of the new South Downs National Park and a place where many traders and businesses are pinning their hopes for a bright future on an increasing tourist trade.
So it is a surprise to many that the town’s tourist information centre (TIC) at the bottom of North Street is to close next Friday – March 7 – with no clear picture of what will happen in the future.
There will apparently be racks of leaflets in the reception area of the new Grange Centre when it opens on Monday.
There is also talk of an ‘information and interpretation’ area in the new South Downs National Park Authority headquarters at Capron House, due to open at the end of next month.
Last summer the first indications that Midhurst would to lose its TIC altogether were revealed when Chichester District Council and the national park failed to agree how it would be staffed.
The national park apparently said it was prepared to open five days a week, but not at weekends – when most visitors would be around.
It quickly became obvious that volunteers were envisaged running the information centre at weekends.
But with just five days to go before the door finally closes on the North Street TIC, there is still a question mark over the future of tourist information services in the town.
As recently as last Monday, Brendan Flynn, estates and administration manager for the national park authority (NPA), told Midhurst town councillors the South Downs Centre was on track and expected to open to the public for Easter to access the information and interpretation displays.
But crucially, he reported the NPA was still working with local groups to try to establish volunteer cover for this information area outside office hours.