BRIDPORT'S business community has expressed concerns after questions were raised over the future of the town's Tourist Information Centre.

The TIC, along with others in West Dorset, is subject to a service review with the budget across the district being slashed by 90 per cent, town councillors were told at a meeting this week.

Matt Ryan, head of tourism and events at West Dorset District Council, insisted that 'no decisions have been made' and that consultations will be carried out to discuss the best way to move forward.

Scott Condliffe, chair of the Bridport and District Tourism Association, told a meeting of the market and business liaison sub-committee that it would be a 'disaster' for Bridport to lose its TIC.

He said: “I am extremely concerned. We have had assurances that the TIC is safe, but we have heard recently that it isn't.”

Mr Ryan pointed to other models of delivering a tourism service, such as those in Weymouth and Portland where it is being provided in the voluntary and business sectors.

Town Councillor David Rickard said figures produced by the district council show there will be around a 90 per cent reduction in expenditure on the four TICs run by WDDC, from £340,000 to just £10,000 on each.

He added: “Whilst we are very keen to take on the service at a local level, it's mainly because we are dissatisfied with it at a district level.

“If we break down everything to a local level, every town will be fighting against every other town, and that's not what we are about.”

Cllr Rickard also asked questions about how a Bridport TIC would be funded, if it is taken on by the town council.

Councillor Sandra Brown said the service is a valuable asset for visitors and tourists.

“It would be a terrible mistake to do anything detrimental to the TICs.”

The meeting on Tuesday, July 22, heard that 140,000 people use Bridport TIC every year, 60 per cent of whom are tourists and 40 per cent are residents.

An alternative model for providing the service is due to be in place by March 2016.

A project document will be provided to town councillors within the next 10 days.

Mr Ryan said: “I do not think anybody wanted to be in this position. There is a significant amount of cuts from central government in grants and it's about looking at which services we can no longer provide.”