Council to look at Kindle-type guides

Ledbury Reporter: GUIDING LIGHTS: Terry Widdows praised the guides. GUIDING LIGHTS: Terry Widdows praised the guides.

THE human face of tourism in Ledbury could be replaced with electronic guides for attractions such as the Elizabethan Painted Room and the Market House.

Several town councillors have suggested replacing the town’s five part-time guides with electronic guides, similar to Kindle devices, and these would be used to instruct visitors on the sights and attractions of a tour.

Another idea is to have electronic displays at each attraction.

Ledbury would be taking a tip from Leominster, where its council recently spent £7,000 on electronic guides for the half-timbered Grange Court. The idea is that such an initial outlay would be a cost-saving measure for Ledbury Town Council in the longer term.

But the value of the town guides to Ledbury has been defended strongly by the town mayor, Terry Widdows, who said the idea was “incredible” and showed disrespect towards the present guides.

He said of the idea of replacing them with electronic displays: “I find it an incredible idea, to be brutally honest, when we keep going on about us being a tourist town.”

Coun Widdows also raised concerns about the security of attractions like the Painted Room, if no staff were on the premises.

Coun Durham, in response, said: “Bath Abbey and similar places have electronic guides.”

Coun Phill Bettington said: “Let’s have a word with Grange Court in Leominster.

Their outlay was £7,000 but the response they’ve have was good. It’s something we could look at in the future.”

Coun Paul Winter and Coun Martin Eager agreed that it was an issue that could be looked at in the future as an “option”.

In 2013, the town’s guides showed round more than 6,000 visitors. The budget for the guides is about £9,500, with annual public donations for the guided tours bringing in around £5,000.

Veteran town guide, Elisabeth Galvin, said she knew nothing about the discussions and, until approached with the idea by the town council, she would make no comment.


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