EXTENSION: Coffs Harbour City Council voted to extend the retention of paid staff at the visitor centre by six months.
EXTENSION: Coffs Harbour City Council voted to extend the retention of paid staff at the visitor centre by six months. Trevor Veale

Visitor centre back-flip

COFFS Harbour City Council has back-flipped on weekend closures of the Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre.

Councillors this week voted in favour of granting the visitor centre $150,000 for the retention of staff under a six-month extension.

The move was based on a mayoral minute put forward by Cr Denise Knight at Thursday's council meeting.

It means no staffing arrangements will change until January 2017 - despite a long-term plan for the centre to close indefinitely.

The vote comes after the council flagged changes to the visitor centre including the relocation of staff to the council's CBD offices.

In an email obtained by The Advocate, council staff wrote to volunteers at the visitor centre saying the centre would no longer trade on weekends.

The email stated brochure displays would be reduced, souvenirs removed during the week and volunteers would be free to "close the doors for a break at any time".

Volunteers received the email less than two weeks before the changes were due to come into effect on Monday.

But at Thursday's meeting, the council's acting general manager Chris Chapman said the weekend closure "was not true".

He claimed the message to volunteers sent by a council staff member was well intentioned, but unfortunately not correct.

The council apologised for any confusion or anxiety caused to volunteers.

The new visitor services model includes many opportunities for volunteers to continue to be involved with providing visitor services and the council would be writing to volunteers to outline these opportunities in the coming weeks.

Despite the back-flip, the six-month extension is only expected to delay an inevitable closure of the visitor centre - a course of action adopted in the Coffs Coast Tourism Strategic Plan 2020.

Mr Chapman confirmed discussions have taken place with Big Banana regarding the visitor centre's lease that is due to expire in 2019.