Tyne & Wear

Private move for Whitley Bay's St Mary's Island

St Mary's Island
Image caption St Mary's Island is a "valued and successful visitor attraction", the council says

A private company could take over the managing of a "valued and successful" visitor attraction off the North Tyneside coast.

The council currently runs the visitor centre and lighthouse on the tidal St Mary's Island, near Whitley Bay.

It says the facility is in need of investment and modernisation, and is considering plans to rent it out.

If given the go-ahead, the council would continue to own the site, and offer it on a five year lease.

St Mary's Island attracts up to 80,000 visitors a year, and offers activities including education sessions to local children.

Linda Arkley, North Tyneside's elected mayor, said: "St Mary's Lighthouse and Visitor Centre is a valued and successful visitor attraction for the borough, and we are firmly committed to securing its successful future.

"However, the site is in need of investment and modernisation to ensure it can deliver the best customer and educational experience.

"An alternative provider may be able to run the facility more cost-effectively than the council, and invest in the facility in ways that the council can't.

"We will ensure that any new provider will share the council's vision for its future success, so that facility remains a great attraction for tourists as well as a community venue and valuable place of learning."

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