Lease signals all clear for rail partnership’s Information Hub
5 March 2018: Haslemere volunteers are preparing a warm welcome to the town this summer for visitors – and residents – with free advice on local attractions, events and beauty spots, and how to get to them.
The volunteers will be based at the Haslemere Information Hub, which is reopening his week after its winter recess and is poised to give a major boost to tourism in the town and surrounding areas. It occupies former retail premises on the station forecourt, beside the ticket hall.
Recently, the project received a major boost with the announcement that South Western Railway (SWR) has agreed to let the Infohub remain in the premises at least until the end of the train company’s current franchise in August 2024.
The Infohub is the public face of the Haslsemere Community Rail Partnership (HCRP) – an association of local interest groups working with South Western Railway to promote the town as a destination and as a gateway to the South Downs.
In addition to SWR, HCRP is supported by Haslemere Town Council, Haslemere Festival, Haslemere Museum, Haslemere Vision, Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce, the Haslemere Society,
the South Downs National Park Authority, and the Station House.
HCRP is guided by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP).
Town councillor Nikki Barton, who has chaired the HCRP steering committee, says this month’s reopening of the Infohub comes after an intensive period of negotiation and planning to take the project to the next stage of its development.
She says: “We ran the Infohub informally for a few months last year and, while the numbers were relatively small, we proved there is a market for an advisory service to help people arriving in the town by train.
“We did this with help from the previous rail company, South West Trains, with financial and physical support from partnership members.
“With the degree of permanence that we now have, we can apply for funding, employ a part-time manager/volunteer co-ordinator and start making a significant contribution to the local economy by stimulating tourism.”
HCRP is currently working towards creating a formal legal identity with business plans and budgets. It is developing its own tourist guides – specifically for visiting ramblers and cyclists, many of whom arrive by train. It will also spread information via its website and social media.
The Infohub complements the existing Visitor Information Centre, based at Haslemere Educational Museum in the High Street.
Nikki Barton says: “The real success of the Infohub will depend on our ability to attract and maintain a large team of enthusiastic volunteers who share a love for the town and the desire to see it prosper.
“Tourism is a major potential growth area, with huge spinoffs for local business. We can offer local businesses and event organisers another platform for advertising – and remember that our shop window is passed by thousands of commuters each day as well.
“We are now looking at plans for significant improvements to the Infohub premises – and this will enable us to make it much more attractive,”
HCRP welcomes inquiries from local individuals and organisations who would like to be involved. For details, please go to haslemereinfohub.uk