A London mayoral hopeful has voiced fears for the future of the Thames Barrier’s visitor centre after it was revealed visitor numbers have dropped sharply over the past three years.
Liberal Democrat Mike Tuffrey, who hopes to become the party’s candidate in next year’s election, said the fall in visitors was a “serious concern”.
The London Assembly member said: “At a time when awareness of flooding needs to be increased, I suggest that perhaps the centre could be doing more to engage with the public.”
Between April 2007 and March 2008, 15,191 people visited the centre, but this had fallen to 9,351 in the year to March 2011.
In a letter to the Environment Agency’s chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury, he said many of the exhibits were “somewhat dated” and did not address the threat to the river from untreated sewage.
“I would be grateful if you could provide some assurances that the Environment Agency is committed to maintaining the centre and is planning improvements,” he continued.
“It is an important asset for London and a public showcase for the agency. An updated information centre, properly marketed, could attract far more visitors each year and would be hugely beneficial for your work and London.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson told the Mercury that the fall in numbers was down to fewer school parties visiting since its learning centre closed, but it had a target of 15,000 visitors for the current year.