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Tourist info building and council HQ under threat

THE building that houses Barnard Castle’s tourist information centre is under threat, according to a confidential report.
And the document also says the future of the town’s council headquarters is in doubt.
The Mercury has learnt that Durham County Council’s asset project manager has held talks about the future of both sites.
The tourist information centre (TIC), at Woodleigh, and the council’s offices at Teesdale House, in 
Galgate, are owned by the authority. 
But the report said both buildings do not meet the council’s “future needs”.
However, the council has reassured residents by saying it is committed to providing a tourist information service in the town.
Teesdale councillor Richard Bell says he is worried by the news.
He said: “I am not aware of any plans to close or move the TIC, and obviously I am very concerned if there is a secret agenda to do so.
“I am meeting with the Economic Development and Neighbourhood Services directors over the next week and will get to the bottom of this.”
 Details of any potential replacement service have not been revealed.
The Mercury has previously reported on Cllr Bell’s concerns that the council is planning to close Teesdale House to save money.
The council has slashed the size of its workforce at the building and many employees have been transferred to offices elsewhere in the county.
A member of staff told the Mercury this week that most employees have been moved to a single section of Teesdale House.
Cllr Bell says any closure could lead to the loss of local jobs and poorer services for residents.
Sue Kelley, the council’s assets project manager, said: “As part of our drive to secure the best facilities for our staff and deliver the highest quality public services for customers, we are reviewing all council offices across the county.
“We will be considering all available options but have not yet made any commitments in the Barnard Castle area.”
Chris Rolle, the council’s head of asset management, promised to retain the tourist information service.
He said: “Let me start by saying the county council remains totally committed to continuing to provide the award-winning tourist information centre services at the heart of this key market town.
“There is no question of this service being removed. As far as the current location is concerned, like all our accommodation it is under review but I can confirm we are not in any negotiations with anyone at this time.”
10/08/2010

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