ASSURANCES have been given that moving Upton’s tourist information centre (TIC) out of the high street and into the town’s heritage centre will not have an impact on the service it offers to visitors.

Malvern Hills District Council (MHDC) is pressing ahead with plans to move the TIC into the historic Pepperpot building, with refurbishment work there scheduled to start in late October ahead of a full service transfer in early January.

This will save about £35,000 a year and free up the existing TIC to be let out for a combination of retail, office or residential use.

Simon Smith, the district council’s economic development manager, addressed Upton Town Council at its latest meeting and assured members that “retaining an acceptable level of service, including face-to-face” was a key criteria for the move.

All three existing permanent staff members are being retained, although the new-look TIC will move to seasonal staffing hours, with paid employees five-daysper- week between April and September, and three-daysa- week at other times.

Volunteer support will ensure that opening hours and the services on offer remain largely unchanged.

“There is no reason whatsoever for us not to deliver anything that we are currently doing,” said Mr Smith.

Upton town councillor Pat Martin questioned whether it was realistic to assume that volunteer support would be available.

“This town is running out of volunteers. There is a library here that they are talking about running with volunteers – where are they all going to come from?”

But Mr Smith said there would be a recruitment campaign to add to the 24 or so volunteers who are already on the books at the heritage centre.

“I know it will be no small task but we have had success in other areas, such as Tenbury, where we have more than 40 volunteers,”

he added.

The work to upgrade the heritage centre will cost about £35,000 and will see new doors and a rooflight fitted, the entrance widened and damaged stonework repaired.

Early plans to extend the building have been dropped after more detailed assessment of the space available.

“At this stage we cannot see any practical reason to continue with that idea,”

said Mr Smith.