First public vision of the Square Mile as Destination City

The City Corporation has now offered the first public vision of its £2.5 million Destination City programme, which aims to attract visitors whose spending will boost a Square Mile economy hit by working from home.

A presentation on the programme shows the City competing for visitors globally with festivals and events in Sydney, New York and Manhattan, and in London with Covent Garden, Kings Cross, Battersea, Canary Wharf and Borough Market.

It has been prepared for the July 17 meeting of Culture, Heritage and Library Committee after members complained that strategy documents alone didn’t tell the story effectively.

Here are some of the slides highlighting the competition, and the Destination City approach. The full presentation is here.

Since the last committee meeting the Destination City team have launched a new website for visitors – TheCityofLdn. That provides information on things to see and do, food and drink, where to stay, and specific attractions.

One presentation slide provides a broad view of how the programme will increase Awareness, Consideration and Booking, plus Footfall, Dwell Time and Spend.

Another slide provides an overview of events that are planned within the programme and with partners, against competing events elsewhere.

What’s missing from the presentation is information on the highlight of the programme, the £1.3 million Bartholomew Fair spectacular, due to be staged across the City in September.

That is in the non-public section of the agenda, with the reason given that it contains “Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).”

I don’t see why the committee shouldn’t publish the excellent presentation given at the Fair’s first stakeholder meeting last week, or some version of it. I was glad to be invited, I guess on the basis or my blogging and offering ideas last year for re-staging the Fair in support of Matthew Bell.

The latest plans provide a lot more detail than the first version of the Fair programme, and I think should be made public for two reasons:

Firstly, unless the Bartholomew Fair plans are on the open agenda of the CHL committee, discussion about Destination City will be limited to the broad-brush vision offered in the presentation I’ve cited above. That doesn’t given any real indication of what the programme will mean to residents. We may benefit from shops, pubs and entertainment venues opening all week, more shows and exhibitions, improved public spaces. Or we may be concerned about the City becoming more like the West End.

Unless the Bartholomew Fair plans are published now there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives to demonstrate publicly that they are engaged with the issues.

The second reason is that there are opportunities to develop fringe events around the main Fair programme – but unless that is in the public domain it is difficult to explore the possibilities for associated talks, walks and other activities. Timing is very tight.

At a recent City Question Time Policy Chief Chris Hayward said, in response to a question that I raised: “if you feel we’re not consulting widely enough on Destination City, or the more engagement residents could have, we want to know how precisely we do it … we want Destination City to be owned by the residents as much as by anybody else.”

My immediate suggestion is to share information from stakeholder meetings, and to put discussion about the Fair on the public side of committee agendas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *