Shaftesbury Tourist Information Centre’s new colour scheme is what you might refer to as ‘Marmitey’. Some people are positive about the yellow paint job. Others hate the hue and are seeing red.
Manager David Taylor tells Alfred that the shade was selected to represent Shaftesbury.
Everybody views colours differently. Shaftesbury artist Andrea Jenkins posted about her love of the new ‘cheerful’ TIC colour on social media. Another local was less generous, comparing the new paint colour to ‘baby poo’.
As you might expect, David Taylor has received a variety of comments as Manager of the Bell Street-based service. He believes that people will grow to love the new look. “In the early days, Coca Cola had an immense reaction against the design of the classic Coca Cola bottle. It wasn’t liked. Now, of course, the classic bottle is what people always recognise,” David offered.
He says if people are talking about the colour then, to some extent, it’s working. ‘Whether they like it or not, the fact is that, even the people that don’t like it have to admit that they saw it. That’s the whole point of standing out in a crowd,” he said.
David says that a fresh coat of paint was long overdue. “It is at least a decade since we last decorated and the building was looking in a pretty poor state. The colours were fading. We needed it re-decorated badly. It had to be slightly darker to cover the dirt that comes from the traffic on the road. It had to be vivid. It has to be proud and stand out so that visitors to the town see it at a glance.”
The previous colour scheme offered a nod to our county’s colours. “Before, it was done in the colours of the Dorset flag, in red and yellow,” said David. What you might not realise is that this new golden-yellow colour was chosen with our town firmly in mind. “I looked at the Shaftesbury crest and it is blue and it is gold. Coincidentally, that same crest appears on the front of the leaflet for the Shaftesbury Charitable Trust. They are the ones who are paying to have the external sides of the Tourist Information Centre redecorated,” said David.
The vibrant ochre colour on the walls will be applied to the doors too and David says that it is a dementia-friendly move. “Anybody who has done the Alzheimer’s dementia course knows that people with dementia do not like going into dark places. You shouldn’t have black mats on the floor because they think it’s a hole. The door frames will be picked out in Shaftesbury blue and the doors themselves will be in gold, so it stands out as a welcoming entrance.”
David says dementia-friendly decoration is important and he recommends that all public-facing businesses and Shaftesbury organisations send staff for training. “A few of our staff attended the dementia awareness courses that were run in the hospital a few years ago, organised by Castle Hill and Cedars,” said David.
The TIC received a £2,500 grant from the Shaftesbury Charitable Trust to pay for this decoration. “That covers everything, including the materials. It’s a long job to do. The Trust didn’t see this as a tourist centre – they see it as a community asset,” said David, who explained that the majority of TIC users are residents.
“It is a community resource. About 60% of the people we get here are locals from the Shaftesbury area. About 40% are visitors to the town,” David explained. “When people come in, they realise the thirty or forty different things we do here for the community – everything from topping up your electricity, gas or water (payment) or paying for your electricity bills, TV licences, collecting recycling containers, sending and collecting parcels. There’s a whole range of things that we do that isn’t tourist-related.”
David says they can’t rebrand the TIC with a new, more community-relevant name because of the cost and the risk of confusion. “It is a difficult one to do. I think Blandford may have rebranded themselves as a Community Information Centre. The danger there is that people know us as the TIC. When it is a community centre, people start thinking that it is the Citizens Advice. There’s a lot of cost in just changing the name, too.”
David stressed that money is tight. “We have to watch every penny. We have to raise money to keep this place open. The Council pulled out of tourism thirteen years ago and the volunteers stepped in to take it over under management. We’ve kept this going. We are now in our fourteenth year of operation. That hasn’t cost the community a penny, although I do accept we have had the odd grant now and again from Shaftesbury Town Council, for which we’re very grateful,” said David.
A couple of spots of rain fell on us as we chatted outside the TIC on Monday afternoon. The building is three-quarters painted in the new shade. David glanced upwards at the grey sky. It offered no clues as to when the job might be finished.
“It was meant to have been completed by the end of last week, but everybody in the area knows what sort of weather we’ve had, with the high winds and the rain. The decorators have been here every minute they could, but at the moment we’re beholden to the weather. We’ll have it finished as soon as possible,” said David.