TOURISM chief Sir Gary Verity has suggested visitor information centres in the Bradford district could be run by volunteers to save them from closure.

The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire cited the tourist centre in Thirsk, North Yorkshire as an example of a successful volunteer-run centre. He said: “Thirsk is run entirely by volunteers and it’s probably a lot more successful now than it was when the council was running it. I’m not aware of the specifics of the local debate [in Bradford] but tourist information centres still have a role to play in the visitor economy.

“It’s just a question of who’s going to pick them up and run with them.”

A public consultation over the future of visitor information centres in the city centre, Haworth, Saltaire and Ilkley is currently ongoing, and will close on March 6.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Independent, Ilkley) said a volunteer-run centre could be an option in Ilkley. She said: “I have suggested to the parish council that they could partially fund it, and volunteers could be an option as well.

“We must remember it’s not just a tourist centre in Ilkley, it’s also the King’s Hall box office. Another option is a consortium of users of King’s Hall, but I would agree volunteers should be looked at. We must retain the centre in some form in Ilkley.”

Cllr Kevin Warnes (Green, Shipley) said a volunteer-run centre could be an option in Saltaire, but stressed it must be sustainable. He said: “Community groups are taking on other parts of the Council machine, so if local people have the capacity to do more that’s something we would definitely support. Anything like that must be sustainable for the foreseeable future, and that is the condition the Council would have to be assured on.”

Cllr Glen Miller (Conservative, Worth Valley) said a volunteer model would not work in Haworth as the rent on the property would be too expensive for volunteers.

But his colleague Cllr Rebecca Poulsen said: “It’s something worth looking at. A model that could work is similar to a lot of the libraries, with a paid coordinator, who is accountable, overseeing a group of volunteers, but we need to keep an information centre in Haworth.”

It is rumoured in the village that negotiations are ongoing between the Council and a third party group with regards to the running of the information centre.