PLANS to move Weymouth’s busy Tourist Information Centre to the Pavilion theatre have been attacked by the town’s business community.

The proposal would see the beachfront office relocate to the harbourside complex.

The move was approved at a meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee and is to be completed by May 24, in time for the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend.

But Weymouth and Portland traders have criticised the proposed move as a poor commercial decision and will see no benefit to either the TIC or the Pavilion.

Nigel Reed, president of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said: “I don’t think the move is smart as a business plan.

“It is intriguing that the principle is to take two assets that the council runs at a considerable loss and presume that merging them will somehow alleviate the deficit.

“While I can appreciate the provision of a new ground floor café in the Pavilion foyer, merging the TIC does not make business sense. The TIC is based where it is to maximise footfall and its usage – as they say, location, location, location.”

Mr Reed added: “In the commercial world that I live in, if you are thinking about the TIC you would think that it is in a great location – central, close to the beach and in where it is easy to get into town.

“The TIC has a footfall of 20,000 a year and I can guarantee that if you move it to the Pavilion it will not get that level of users. A lot of the people who use it are elderly and they want to be as near to the centre of town as they can get.”

It is a view echoed by chamber secretary Michel Hooper-Immins, who praised staff at the information centre as ‘brilliant’.

He said: “While being at the Pavilion may be useful in August with lots of people at that end of the beach, think of it on a wet November day. Who will want to walk to the other end of the seafront then? This move has been attempted once before and had to be reversed within a short time.”

The proposed move has also been slammed as a waste of time by chamber executive committee member Alison Cocks, who runs the Beach Café behind the TIC.

“I think it’s ridiculous, a complete waste of time,” she said. “I have worked next door to it for the past 20 years and it is a wonderful facility. The old people get off the coaches and go straight in there to see what is going on.”

Paul Compton, of White Motor Boats, is also concerned that the relocated TIC may not have the space to display all the local leaflets.

He said: “The centre is at the heart of the town and in just the right place to serve visitors arriving by bus, train and coach. It’s always very busy and gets very large numbers going in.

“It’s doing a good job where it is. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul,”

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s general manager for facilities and business operations Helen Frances said: “The Weymouth TIC has always provided an excellent service to visitors and residents, whether they visit in person, or make enquiries by phone or by email.

“However with rising costs associated with the building, visitor services are not sustainable.

“Because the TIC is highly regarded, the council agreed that TIC relocation to a shared building is the best way to secure the service and reduce costs. The existing TIC shop and office will be re-let to a suitable organisation as quickly as possible.”