UPTON-upon-Severn’s tourist information centre is set to move out of the High Street within the next three months.

Despite some opposition, Malvern Hills District Council voted earlier this year to cut costs by moving the facility into the Heritage Centre at Upton’s historic Pepperpot.

It is estimated this will save about £37,000 through reduced staffing costs and income from letting the vacated premises.

The council has now submitted a planning application for various alterations to the heritage centre, including door alterations and the installation of a roof light, and hopes to move the tourist service in November. Staff will be retained to work alongside new and existing volunteers at the heritage centre and Councillor Phil Grove, responsible for economic development, gave assurances that the offering to visitors will not suffer.

“The Heritage Centre building was significantly improved in 2010 and the council has set aside a capital budget to invest further in the building, to ensure it provides a first-class tourist information service alongside the heritage centre,”

he said.

“We are committed to ensuring visitors to Upton have a warm welcome and an enjoyable visit to this beautiful riverside town.”

The decision to move the tourist centre continues to divide opinion.

Mike Ostick, vice chairman of the Upton Town Partnership, accepts the council has to cut costs and believes this is the best possible solution.

“Last year the heritage centre had 9,000 visitors and the tourist information centre about 30,000.

“To put the two together in a prominent place close to the High Street is a real magnet for visitors,” he said.

“In the current economic climate, when councils have to save money, I think this is an ideal solution which will not really impact our offering to visitors.”

But Malvern Hills District Councillor Roger Sutton, opposed the original decision back in February, and said his opinion had not changed, calling the move “one of the daftest decisions that we (the council) has ever taken”.

“Upton is dependent on tourism and a proper tourist centre is absolutely crucial,”

he said.

“It is the first thing people see and for many years has had a dedicated and professional staff who are doing a first class job. I am yet to be convinced that service will be replicated in the Pepperpot.”