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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/02/2005
Farnham Tourist Information Centre



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to consider proposals from Farnham Town Council (FTC) for the future provision and funding of a tourist information service in Farnham.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
N/A
N/A
Positive



Tourism as a function has a positive impact on the local economy.

E-Government implications:

Tourist information in both the public and private sectors is increasingly being delivered electronically, particularly over the internet.

Resource and legal implications:

As part of the approved 2004/05 budget, a saving of 30,000 was met from the Tourism budget by reviewing service delivery options for the Tourist Information Centre and from an increased contribution of 20,000 from Farnham Town Council in return for an agreed service level agreement between the Council’s for the provision of the Farnham Tourist Information Centre (TIC).
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Background

1. Prior to October 1998, Surrey County Council (SCC), as part of its Library Service, operated the Farnham Tourist Information Centre (TIC), based at Vernon House, West Street, Farnham. At that time, Waverley agreed to take over the operation and management of the service to be located within the Farnham Council Offices building with an initial financial contribution from SCC of 21,500 in 1998/99 which reduced in the following two years to 16,125 and 12,900 respectively. Funding from SCC ceased in October 2001. There are only two registered Tourist Information Centres in Surrey, one in Guildford and the Farnham office although many district councils in the County provide some form of tourist information.

2. In the light of budget reductions in the 2004/05 budget, the Executive, in April 2004, approved the adoption of a partnership approach with Farnham Town Council. U under which this, FTC would contribute 20,000 to Waverley on the basis of a one year service level agreement (SLA) with Waverley to provide a tourism service from Farnham commensurate with this level of funding. Approval was also given to officers continuing to negotiate with FTC on arrangements for the long-term transfer of the function to the Town Council.

3. The SLA with Farnham Town Council was agreed and signed in October 2004. Under the terms of the SLA an accredited TIC service is provided from 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday and on Saturdays from 9am – 12 noon. The service is now being provided by single person operation. 4. Farnham Town Council established a mMember Task Group to consider the tourism function and this group’s work culminated in the Town Council’s resolution which is set out below (a copy of the letter from the Town Council is attached as an Annexe to this report):

a. Farnham Town Council negotiate with Waverley Borough Council to continue to contribute to the provision of a Tourist Information Centre during 2005/06 in the sum of not less than 15,000 (for clarity, this sum relates to the expected contribution from Waverley Borough Council) and with the continuation of an annual revised Service Level Agreement Mechanism regarding Waverley Borough Council Staff. b. Waverley Borough Council be requested to continue to make a financial contribution to the tourism function and as a minimum provide the Tourist Information Centre accommodation at no charge in future years. c. Farnham Town Council take responsibility for the commencement of the development of a tourism service during 2005/2006, re-deploying its current Farnham Town Council staff and resources held in the Tourism budget.

d. Farnham Town Council take over the management of the accredited Tourist Information Centre with effect from 1st April 2006.

e. Farnham Town Council keep under review the future provision of the Tourist Information Centre in a ‘prime’ location.

Resource and Legal Implications

Draft Tourist Information Centre Budget 2005/06

5. The draft revenue expenditure budget for the Farnham TIC for 2005/06 is made up as follows:

6. Under the proposals set out in paragraph 4 above, Farnham Town Council, in return for a further agreed Service Level Agreement, would be prepared to contribute a total of 30,000 in 2005/06 towards the costs of operating the TIC. The cost to Waverley in 2005/06 under this the existing service levels arrangement would therefore be 18,880 less any income received from bookings, souvenirs and publications.


Staffing issues

7. Under the existing Service Level Agreement for 20054/065, the Waverley staff resources allocated to the TIC were have been reduced to single person operation of the function between the hours of 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday and 9am – 12 noon on Saturday (a total of 33 hours opening time), by means of redeployment of staff to other duties within the Farnham Locality Office to support the continuing implementation of the ‘Customer Focused Service’ pilot project.
8. The situation for the remaining Waverley staff allocated to the TIC at April 2006 when the Town Council assumes full responsibility for the service will need to form part of on-going discussions with the Town Council particularly on the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE). is uncertain. However it is likely that the Town Council would choose to run the service with their own resources. If this were the case further redeployment of the remaining Waverley staff resources at this time would need to be considered.


Consequential Financial Implications

9. The cost of operating a TIC service for 33 hours a week is 31,056. This includes the fixed accommodation costs of 6,780 a year but excludes any increase as a result of any 1st January 2005 pay award and excludes any income (small sums only) earned by the TIC function related to sales and other charges for services. The proposed (increased) contribution from Farnham Town Council of 30,000 would closely match that cost.

10. If the Executive proceeds with a new Service Level Agreement for 2005/06, the intention would be to look to the permanent redeployment of staff over and above the hours required to provide the TIC function. This change in hours of tourist information provision could be a chieved without compromising the status of the service as a registered Tourist Information Centre.


Conclusion

11. The resolution of Farnham Town Council is largely in accordance with the direction for the tourism service at Farnham as reported to the Executive in April 2004. It is noted that Farnham Town Council’s long- term aim is to locate the service elsewhere in the town in a ‘prime location’.

12. The Town Council proposes that Waverley be asked to continue to make a financial contribution to the tourism service in Farnham after April 2006 and at a minimum to provide the accommodation currently used at no charge. It is suggested that officers be authorised to negotiate this aspect with the Town Council and report back to the Executive in due course on this proposal before reaching any agreement.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the resolutions of Farnham Town Council and the consequential financial arrangements for Waverley, as set out in the report, be noted; and

2. officers, in consultation with relevant portfolio holders, be authorised to negotiate with Farnham Town Council on the detail of the response to the proposal contained in resolutions; and report back to the Executive at the earliest opportunity for final approval. in due course.
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Background Papers (CEx)
There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:
Name: Roger Standing Telephone: 01483 523221 comms/Executive/2004-05/378