New opening times for tourist attraction

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COUNCIL bosses have agreed to change the opening hours of a major tourist attraction in a bid to save money.

Hartlepool Maritime Experience, off Maritime Avenue, has different opening hours during the winter and summer months and council bosses have moved to slightly reduce the hours during the winter and lengthen the off-peak season by eight weeks.

The current opening times at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience are 10.30am-4pm between the half-term holiday in October and the February half-term (off-peak) and between 10am-5pm during the peak season, which is from the February half-term to October.

But from November the attraction, which is a reconstruction of an 18th century seaport and includes the floating warship HMS Trincomalee, will be open between 11am-4pm during the new off-peak season, which is November 1st to March 31.

During the peak season, April 1 to October 31, the opening hours will remain between 10am-5pm.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson, portfolio holder for culture and leisure, met to discuss the changes at a recent meeting.

Council officers said the move will protect the core permanent staff members and reduce the need for casual staff cover.

A report said: “Research on the potential impact on visitor numbers has taken place and it is felt that there will be no adverse impact on visitor numbers but a positive impact on the casual staffing budget savings target.”

It added that the new opening hours will simply the message for visitors as they are no longer dependent on the times of school holidays which vary.

Also, that the new hours are the same as the cafe onboard the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer.

The report added: “It shortens the opening hours by half an hour in the off-peak season when HME can be quiet particularly in the dark winter months.

“It lengthens the off-peak season by around eight weeks so that when staff at HME move to annualised hours contracts then staffing arrangements can be more flexible, with staff at work when it is busy and not when we are closed, thus producing cost savings.”

The Trincomalee Trust has also been consulted on the plans, and agreed in principle to trial the new hours for one year.