WALKERS have raised fears for the future of the visitors' centre and shop at Delamere Forest which is undergoing an 'efficiency review'.

The Forestry Commission has confirmed it is examining how cost-effective the centre is and is considering options.

Husband and wife John and Joanna Lewis, of Langdale Way, Frodsham, regularly visit the centre - which has been open for 20 years.

Mr Lewis said: 'At weekends and in school holidays the place is packed - people fight for car parking spaces and expect a visitors centre and shop.

'If it does close it is a very short-sighted decision, which does not consider the local community.

'I know economics are important but that cannot be the only consideration.

'It is such a lovely spot and some of the shop staff have worked there for 20 years.

'It is like a family, there is such a friendly atmosphere, we love it and would hate to see it go.'

The centre's cafe was franchised out last year and will not be affected.

Delamere Forest Park manager Simon Hough said: 'The Forestry Commission nationally is currently reviewing its work and how efficiently it can operate.

'We are looking at all our existing operations to see how we can make them more cost effective and are also looking for new opportunities.

'Delamere Cafe in the Forest was recently put out to franchise and is performing well.

'One of the operations we are looking at is how to continue providing a visitor centre and shop at Delamere Forest.

'At this moment in time we are still to finalise our preferred option but we will ensure we will continue to provide the quality and variety of services that people have come to expect of us.'

Chief executive of Visit Chester and Cheshire Chris Brown is keen to make sure service is not reduced in Delamere: 'We would seek to work with the Forestry Commission to make sure provision of service for visitors remains at a good standard.

'It is a busy attraction and holds huge importance in terms of tourism.'