Monday, 28 January 2013

Giants Causeway Visitor Centre - TICed Off

Agenda for Moyle District Council, Monday, January 28 includes:

8. That Council requests a site meeting at the Giant’s Causeway to discuss the prohibition of traffic and to invite the Minister and the general public who have an interest in this matter to attend.
10. Propose that Council meet with National Trust and NITB in relation to the cost of Tourist Information Provision at the Giant’s Causeway.

Moyle ratepayers and others ought to spend more time in the public gallery in Sheskburn on Mary Street, Ballycastle. There's great entertainment to be had at the twice monthly puppet show as Mr Punch subjects Ms Judy to some traditional baiting and beating. I missed part of a recent performance when the curtain came down and the characters went 'into committee' :)

Item 8

Councils have a duty to assert rights of way; they also have a responsibility for mapping these rights of way. However, when the new centre at the Giants Causeway was about to be built the Roads Service issued an Abandonment Order on part of the roadway that leads to the stones - and such an order apparently extinguishes a right of way. Why didn't Moyle Council, in association with the Department of the Environment, exercise its power to divert the roadway instead? Would this not have avoided the current predicament?

Item 10

The Tourist Information Centre (TIC) at the Giants Causeway lies behind the reception desk in the new Visitor Centre.

The admission fee includes access to the Visitor Centre facilities (cafe, retail, TIC, secure car parking and toilets including a changing places facility), use of a hand held audio guide to explore the landscape outdoors .. GCausewayNT, social media manager, 22 August 2012

So the TIC is considered by the National Trust to be part of the visitor experience whereas TICs in other places are free.

I phoned a friend this morning. She runs a B&B and popped over to the centre to collect some brochures for the benefit of her guests. She was told by an attendant in the car-park that she would still have to pay £8.50 on her departure. She said she wouldn't be paying, went into the centre, complained at reception, collected the brochures and left in a state of some annoyance. Her guests main complaint has been about pricing at the visitor centre; £8.50 on top of the B&B charge plus an evening meal could be a major disincentive.

I walked into the visitor centre two weeks ago following the previous council discussion. I asked about the TIC - the receptionist volunteered to take me into TIC for free - no ticket would be needed - had I taken my car into the car-park I might have had to pay £8.50 to get out! If I not been aware of this issue I might easily have bought a ticket and gone into the TIC - so clear noticing is needed or a different arrangement needs to be made.