LONG-suffering volunteers of the Richmond Tourist Information Centre have been told once more its future is in doubt – just one year on from the last time it was evicted from its premises.

Hilda Ellis, who has been involved with the TIC since the 1980s, had moved the TIC in with Rodbers in Queens Road last April after having to move out of the Friary Gardens office because Richmondshire Leisure Trust could no longer run the service.

Mrs Ellis, along with 17 volunteers, said she was deeply disappointed to be in the same position again following news that Rodbers was closing the store to concentrate on its builders’ merchant premises in Waterloo Street, Richmond.

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She said: “My contract is until May 31 so I know we are safe until then but it is unsettling.

“I have been running the TIC since it was just a wooden hut in the town in the 1980s so I’m not going to give up on – I will find some way of providing the service to the town.

“The TIC is hugely important to the tourist town of Richmond, the businesses and the attractions and I will continue my search for a permanent solution.”

Melva Steckles, chairwoman of the Richmond and Lower Swaledale Business Association, said: “This is the third time the TIC has been in jeopardy in recent years and it is not nice for volunteers who desperately want to keep it going.

“The TIC needs to be in a shop front position so people can see it, and it needs to be rent-free because there is no money made.”

Mrs Steckles added that a lot of local people use the service as well tourists, to find out information about changes to bus timetables and local events.

Jackie Stubbs, landlady of the George and Dragon pub in Hudswell, said she uses the service regularly for market research and said it was a vital commodity for Richmond.

She said: “It is desperately important that the TIC is retained, especially coming up to the Tour de France this summer because it will be many tourists’ first point of contact to find local places to eat and stay.”