Voices heard on i-Site clo­sure

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - OUT & ABOUT - ERIN TASKER

There was stand­ing room only on the chess­board on Ash­bur­ton’s main street on Thurs­day, as the com­mu­nity gath­ered to protest the clo­sure of the town’s i-Site vis­i­tor cen­tre.

Or­gan­ised by long-time Ash­bur­ton re­tailer Tony Todd, the lunchtime rally was about send­ing a mes­sage to the Ash­bur­ton District Coun­cil that the peo­ple weren’t happy with the de­ci­sion.

Ex­pe­ri­ence Mid Can­ter­bury (EMC) an­nounced last month that Ash­bur­ton’s i-Site would close fol­low­ing a re­view, while Methven’s was to re­main open, but be re­struc­tured.

At the time, EMC gen­eral man­ager Bruce Mof­fat said there had been a ‘‘re­ally big’’ down­turn in num­bers go­ing through the doors of the two i-Sites, and in in­come, as peo­ple turned more to on­line for pur­chases.

Tourism based busi­nesses were also in­vest­ing heav­ily on­line, and many weren’t pro­duc­ing the phys­i­cal brochures and fly­ers they used to ei­ther, he said.

But Todd said he was yet to see any sup­port in the com­mu­nity for the clo­sure of the i-Site, which was on Ash­bur­ton’s main street, and sug­gested Ash­bur­ton Mayor Donna Favel needed hear­ing aids, be­cause she was not lis­ten­ing.

‘‘I hope that from now on our mayor and coun­cil­lors take on board your con­cerns and open this i-Site im­me­di­ately,’’ Todd told the hun­dreds who had started gath­er­ing at 11.30am for the 12.15pm rally, which only lasted for about 15 min­utes.

An­other long-time Ash­bur­ton re­tailer and pro­moter of Ash­bur­ton, Rus­sell An­stiss, agreed.

‘‘You (Mayor Favel) are do­ing a great job, but you’re do­ing a lousy one on this,’’ he said.

The rally came the day af­ter EMC an­nounced what ser­vice would take the place of the i-Site in Ash­bur­ton. EMC board chair James Urquhart said a satel­lite pres­ence would open in the Ash­bur­ton Pub­lic Li­brary.

‘‘We re­ceived a num­ber of op­tions and looked at the cur­rent trends on tourism and tourists ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion, and wanted to adapt to that without cost­ing the ratepayer,’’ he said.

‘‘We then talked with coun­cil and the Ash­bur­ton Li­brary and they are happy for the li­brary to house lo­cal in­for­ma­tion brochures, which is a great so­lu­tion.

‘‘At the same time, our new mo­bile web­site has been com­pleted which will make in­for­ma­tion for vis­i­tors much eas­ier to ac­cess.’’

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

Crowds gath­ered to protest the clo­sure of Ash­bur­ton’s i-Site.

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