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Parish council in talks to take over village tourist information building

 Lavenham Tourist Information Centre. Picture: DON BLACK

Lavenham Tourist Information Centre. Picture: DON BLACK

A Suffolk parish council is in discussions to bring back a post office and maintain its tourist information centre (TIC) as part of a village hub project.

Lavenham Parish Council wants to take over the current TIC building in Lady Lane and provide a village hub to include a post office, a visitor information point with the sale of souvenirs, and a focus for village activities.

In March the decision was made by Babergh District Council’s cabinet to close the facility at the end of the current tourist season on October 31.

Babergh’s cabinet will consider a proposal from Lavenham Parish Council and Lavenham Business Forum to take on the building to provide wider community use on Thursday, July 12.

Lavenham does not have a permanent post office and relies on a mobile service during weekday afternoons.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said any decision made ‘in principle’ next week would require further negotiation and the authority is currently not commenting publicly on any discussions relating to the proposal.

John Ward, Babergh District Council’s leader and cabinet member for economy, said: “We want to work with others about how best to tell visitors about all that is on offer.

“We’ve got to ask whether a fixed TIC in Lavenham meets the changing needs of our visitors or whether there are other options that will better help visitors get the most out of their trip and stay, and that’s a conversation that we want to further with our local partners and visitor destinations.”

Lavenham Parish Council has previously worked with Babergh on similar projects such as the management of the two village car parks and toilets.

It is understood that the parish council hopes to acquire the building through a freehold interest or as a lease with an option to buy.

A community interest company would be formed to run the hub, with a shop manager and a team of volunteers.

This is a model promoted by the Plunkett Foundation – who support rural communities to set up co-operatives.

A paid manager ensures the finances, stock ordering, legislation, and staff cover is consistently managed and a volunteer team inject a range of skills and ideas and reduce staffing costs.

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