Council decides to sell unused retail unit

Berwick Town Council has decided to sell its retail unit at the entrance to the Castlegate car park.

By Ian Smith
Wednesday, 10 April, 2019, 11:21
Berwick Town Council has bought a vacant retail unit at the entrance to Castlegate car park.

The proposal was made by Coun Anne Forbes during a wider discussion on visitor welcome services at last week’s full council meeting.

She said: “We bought this building on the presumption that we were going to make money from it with tourist information from Northumberland County Council moving into it. That isn’t the case.

“We’ve made it watertight and I think we should sell it. I propose we put into place a procedure for putting the building up for sale. It’s not what we thought it was going to be.”

It was seconded by Coun Karin Graham, who said: “It’s a white elephant which hasn’t worked out the way we wanted it to.

Referring to the new Berwick Visitor Centre on Walkergate, she added: “There’s a duplicate building just up the road which is absolutely amazing.”

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Members agreed and town clerk Gareth Davies was asked to start the process. He told councillors he received approaches every month to either rent or buy the building.

He reported: ‘Council purchased the former TIC building on Castlegate in order to offer it to Northumberland County Council as a partnership facility to house the TIC. It is in the best position for pedestrian footfall, and is of an appropriate size.

‘Northumberland County Council have not responded to those offers, and are pursuing, in other towns as well as Berwick upon Tweed, a policy of co-locating tourist information alongside other council services, such as generic customer services and libraries.

‘Officers understand the benefits of such an approach to Northumberland County Council in terms of their revenue budget, but believe the result is potentially less than optimal in terms of pedestrian footfall.’

In the short term, the building will be used by Berwick Riders Association to host displays for the Riding of the Bounds. This had been intended to be a pilot for events such as the Autumn Festivals, while it was seen as a potential base for the recently launched tourism ambassadors project.