Some seven Thanet tourism staff are facing redundancy, says Margate Central ward councillor Iris Johnston.
Speaking at a Thanet council meeting tonight (March 28) Cllr Johnston revealed a public petition had been raised in response to possible cuts in the service.
Fears were raised earlier this month that the service at Droit House would be closed as part of a cash-cutting drive by the authority,
Staff confirmed an expected closure of visitor information centre of April 22. Sources also confirm some staff are in consultation over possible redundancies.
But Thanet council later revealed Droit House would remain open after the authority secured another year on the lease of the property but admitted the tourism service was being reviewed.
Cllr Johnston said: “We have a duty of care to all our staff and seven highly valued tourism staff are at risk of losing their jobs.
“We cannot replace valued paid staff with volunteers. They do an amazing job.”
In response council leader Bob Bayford said he could not comment on staff matters but added: “Tourism is an integral part of our ongoing success as a destination. We are currently in the process of reviewing how we will continue to deliver this in the future to ensure this remains a successful part of our local economy. This is in the wider context of the council facing serious financial pressures.”
Cuts across departments
Cuts are being planned across Thanet council departments -including tourism and operational services as part of an ‘efficiencies’ programme.
All department heads at the authority have been told to look at how savings can be made as the council attempts to balance its books and not deplete its reserves.
According to the budget for 2019-20 -which was agreed by a majority at full council on February 28 – proposals are to make £250,000 in organisational efficiencies.
Droit House, as part of the Stone Pier, was compulsorily purchased by the council in the 1990s. That was followed by renovation.
The Stone Pier was later leased to Margate Harbour Arm Ltd for just £1 per year and Droit House transferred to Kent County Council. The property was then leased back to Thanet council.
Local tourism brings in some 4.2 million visitors with an annual £319 million spend to the Thanet economy each year, supporting 7,950 jobs.