Rye’s Tourism Centre comes under fire

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RYE’S Tourist Information Centre came under fire this week for being unable to provide proper trading figures and using an out-of-date telephone system.

The TIC at Lion Street also acts as a hub for the whole of Rother, encompassing Battle and Bexhill.

But it has been claimed people have not been able to get through to make accommodation bookings or access other services as the one phone in the building is often engaged.

The issue came to light when Rye Town Council’s policy and resources committee met on Monday evening to discuss an approach from Rother District Council to take over the running of the service from April 2015.

The Lion Street TIC is currently operated by Tourism South East.

Rye Town Council already runs the successful Heritage Centre, at Strand Quay, which has reported being on track to make a profit and has been listed, by Trip Advisor as Rye’s second top visitor attraction behind St Mary’s Church.

The council had asked to see trading figures from the Lion Street TIC, to help them reach a decision, but were told that none were available.

Heritage Centre manager Peter Cosstick said: “Financial performance data for Lion Street is one of the key things and none has been provided.

“Yet the tender document, when Tourism South East took over, clearly stated that this was required.

“They can offer no break down on costs or what is spent on postage.

“There is a huge question mark over the accuracy of reported footfall.

“They have one phone and yet they are responsible for Rye, Battle and Bexhill. The telephony system is not sophisticated enough to log abandoned calls and there is not even an ansa-phone system. People just get the engaged tone. It is pretty poor.

“The information we have had from them is virtually non-existent. It is pretty awful.”

Cllr Michael Eve said: “That is just incompetent.”

Cllr Jonathan Breeds said: “If they want us to seriously look at this then we need accurate information as per the contract.”

Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore sid: “It would be non-sensical for us to take this on without the correct information.”