NEWPORT Tourist Information Centre will be closed and services merged into the nearby local library building.

The move to close the centre on Long Street and merge it with the town library building on Bridge Street will be made before February 28, 2018 following the decision made by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority at their meeting on Wednesday.

The authority heard from James Parkin, the national park’s director of delivery and discovery, who proposed merging the two services in the library building as an alternative to two other proposals put forward by the local community.

The first proposal from Newport Visitor Centre Action Group was to co-operate with the park authority and the Newport Library Working Group to move the library service to the TIC with voluntary help to reduce running costs.

The other was from Newport town council, which planned to lease the building from the national park at a peppercorn rent and deliver combined visitor and community services under one roof.

But Mr Parkin recommended a third option as he said he could not wholeheartedly support either of the other two.

“Newport is getting a gold standard service but we serve an entire national park and there are communities where we have got very little. You can rattle them off: from Amroth, to Saundersfoot, to Dale – the list goes on and on. Visitors to these areas deserve services too,” he said.

Mr Parkin said his third option was in the spirit of a new tourism initiative agreed by the national park in October last year.

This envisages a move away from tourism information centres and towards providing more information through staff working with communities, as well as through social media and the internet.

Lady Mary Hallinan, the chair of the Newport Visitor Centre Action Group, argued the current visitor centre met all the requirements of the new plan.

“In Newport are all the elements they require to produce this new initiative to deliver their services to residents and visitors,” she said.

She added the action group felt frustrated the national park had missed an opportunity to work with the community, and said the scheme to move the visitor centre service into the library was unviable as the building is cramped and does not meet health and safety standards.

The group plans to attend the next national park committee meeting to address concerns about the future of the visitor centre building.

A Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority spokesperson said: “Members voted to close Newport Tourist Information Centre by the end of February 2018 and to refocus its visitor service provision in North Pembrokeshire.

“The authority will now engage in discussions with Pembrokeshire County Council and the community of Newport to explore the option of delivering a joint library and tourism service in Newport.

“A report on the future of the authority’s building in Long Street, Newport, will be presented to a forthcoming meeting.”