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Changes ahead as Pavilion Gardens looks to the future

High Peak Borough Council has announced some changes to the facilities at Buxton's Pavilion Gardens this winter as part of a wider project to look at new and innovative ways of delivering services at the historic complex alongside the town's other significant heritage features, such as the Crescent.

The Council has committed to an investment of £3 million in a programme of major remedial work to those buildings not already renovated in the 2008-2010 programme of works. However, the enforced closure of the Octagon has impacted heavily on the income from events and from 'passing trade'. Taken together with the cost of hiring the marquee in order to maintain business continuity, the cost to the taxpayer of operating the Gardens has risen very considerably and the Council needs to ensure the facilities operate in the most cost-effective way to support the capital investment.

In order to help achieve this, the Council has been obliged to introduce some immediate measures to reduce costs and will:

  • Close the venue from Christmas Eve this year to 1February 2017 (except for pre-booked events)
  • Reduce the operational hours of the Pavilion Café
  • Open the coffee bar from April to September every year
  • Offer opportunities to operate the outside kiosk and the miniature train to businesses and entrepreneurs

Councillor Tony Kemp, Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Tourism and Regeneration, said: "The Pavilion Gardens is an important and valued attraction for local people and visitors alike which is why the Council is investing in securing the buildings.

"However, taxpayers from across the Borough have a right to expect us to control costs sensibly and it is essential that the investment the Council is making is supported by the operation of financially viable services. We are looking at a range of options to achieve this. The decision to reduce operational hours during traditionally quiet months is an obvious early action and reflects what many tourism-related businesses already do. It also reflects the actual footfall and sales in the Gardens during winter months - indeed I understand that at one time the complex was closed from January through to March every year.

"Taking a new and more radical approach to providing services also opens up some immediate opportunities - particularly for people interested in operating the train service and the kiosk - and we look forward to hearing proposals from the market in due course. The visitor market does not stand still and, whilst the Council has reacted to the changing environment, we need to ensure we remain responsive by continuing a programme of innovation.  

"Since it will not be possible to access the present TIC during the January closure I was concerned to ensure we continued to support the hospitality sector. Thus tourism email, online queries and phone calls will be handled as normal and leaflets will be available from the Opera House end of the Conservatory. Face to face contact will not be available but I have to make the point that in the past three January months (2014-16) we have made one single hotel booking at the counter.

"In order to manage catering services effectively we have gradually moved in recent years toward greater use of casual staff. We are doing all we can to minimise the impact on staff and I do very much regret any unwelcome aspects but we must bring costs under control. What we are doing now is actually directed at preserving those services, and thus employment, at our much loved facilities."