Both Rother District Council and Arun District Council have invited tenders from the private sector to run parts of their tourism operations. Is this is the Big Society in action?
Rother District Council is seeking applications for the new visitor information services contract to start in April 2012. Already agreed to by the Council, the new arrangements will see one main tourist information centre 'hub' located in Bexhill, Battle or Rye. This centre will be required to meet Visit Britain's National Networked standards.
The other two towns will host smaller information points that will be staffed by an existing organisation or business. A minimum of ten unmanned tourist information points will also be located across the towns and villages of Rother.
The total contract value over the three years is £195,000 (£65,000 per annum).
Arun on the other hand is struggling to find an out sourced solution having reached a sticky end in its negotiations with Arun Arts.
Last spring, Arun District Council advertised the fact it was looking for an outside company to run Visitor Information Centres in both Bognor Regis and Arundel from 1 April 2011 for a sum of £17,000 per annum to run each centre.
A bid was submitted by Arun Arts Ltd to run the Bognor Regis VIC which, after a series of discussions, was formally accepted by the Council in December 2010. The company currently provides an arts and entertainment service for residents and visitors located in the town’s Regis Centre.
Arun Arts has now pulled out of taking over the running the VIC in the town and the Council is perplexed as to why this change of mind has occurred.
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Tourism, entertainment and hospitality
Rother District Council