Official summary of Destination City review published

Next week City of London Corporation committees will discuss a final report from Paul Martin’s review of the Destination City programme, and public papers now available include a summary of recommendations.

Background in this earlier post, and the presentation by Paul to a recent Citizens Forum.

One suggestion in the summary is that the Square Mile is promoted as the capital’s ‘Old Town’, rich in culture and heritage.

Overall there’s no great surprises in the recommendations, and indeed little detail of how the programme will actually work in making the Square Mile a more attractive destination for visitors and business. That’s presumably in a full report in the private section of the agenda.

I’ve copied the main recommendations below. There’s no indication when the final report will be public.

The recommendations confirm a switch from big events – like last year’s Bartholomew Fair – to promoting the unique culture and heritage of the City, and making the street-level experience more attractive.

The focus is on attracting more footfall from Monday-Friday. It’s not clear whether that is mainly for weekdays, or includes developing further attractions at the weekend. The latter is more challenging, since many hospitality venues are closed, and could take some persuading that it is worth opening on the basis of the Destination City proposals.

I would expect that the main discussion among Corporation Members will be about the governance and direction of the programme, which appears to be split three ways.

Policy and Resources committee has overall control, “while aligning accountability for the culture strategy to the Culture, Heritage & Libraries committee,” with a Head of Profession for Culture serving that committee.

There will be “a new Destination City Board to build on, and succeed, the current City Envoy network with the proposed terms of reference and membership set out in the independent review report”.

The summary doesn’t give the terms of reference, so it isn’t clear what powers the Board will have. Nor is it clear how the proposed Destination City Hub will be staffed.

I’m particularly interested in recommendation 10:

Reevaluate the social media strategy and the possible partnership approaches to this where duplication currently exists, focus effort on a comprehensive calendar of events, and achieving an enhanced sense of the City of London as the capital’s ‘Old Town’.

I guess that means reviewing how best to use thecityofLDN visitor website, set up by Destination City last year, and the OneCity site created earlier by New London Architecture, together with their social media accounts.

I hope it may also mean making more use of the many articles, blogs, maps, and walks created by guides and historians, as I suggested in Some last minute ideas for the Destination City review.

For what it is worth, my take on the proposals now available – and what we learned from Paul Martin at the the Citizens Forum event – is:

  • There’ll be general recognition that the review was very comprehensive, with some 170 meetings, and well-reflects views about a change of direction.
  • The emphasis on street-level improvements, coupled with better promotion of culture and heritage, could work for residents, workers, businesses and visitors.
  • The emphasis on partnership-working will be welcome. As Paul said at the Forum: “I’m thinking of cultural and heritage organisations, the Livery companies, the BIDs, businesses themselves, resident organisations – we need to think how we can harness the totality of this enormous and extraordinary community assets to achieve the goals of Destination City”.

BUT

  • Will the proposed actions make much of a difference – unless there is a clear and exciting vision that mobilises all the interests that Paul mentions?
  • How will that be possible with such complex governance arrangements?

The proposals may well be adopted next week by Corporation committees, and various internal processes set in motion. But unless there is clear governance, vision, and a major programme to engage the many interests whose commitment is needed to make Destination City work, we won’t see much change … or many more visitors.

That would be a lost opportunity. Fortunately there’s a chance for residents to help move things forward at another Citizens Forum event at 6.30pm on May 20, organised by councillor Brendan Barns, who is Resident Representative on the City Envoy Network. Book here. It’s at The Amicable Society of Lazy Ballerinas which is a Fleet Street wine bar.

Recommendations

These are contained in the papers going to Culture, Heritage and Libraries committee on April 11, and Policy and Resources Committee.

VISION

  1. Destination City should be redefined as the growth strategy for the Square Mile as a destination.
  2. Recast Destination City as a partnership approach to making the Square Mile a magnetic destination by:

a) Prioritising improving pedestrian connectivity between places.

b) A consistently lively and animated ground floor experience.

c) A premium concierge service for relocating businesses.

d) A particular focus on driving footfall between Fridays and Mondays.

GOVERNANCE

  1. Align accountability for the refreshed Destination City programme to the Policy & Resources committee while aligning accountability for the culture strategy to the Culture, Heritage & Libraries committee.
  2. Create a new Destination City Board to build on, and succeed, the current City Envoy network with the proposed terms of reference and membership set out in the independent review report.

DELIVERY

  1. Create a Destination City Hub, reflecting the responsibilities and capabilities described in the independent review report.
  2. Request the Town Clerk/Chief Executive to consider the future organisational location for the Destination City Hub, including the possibility that it should be relocated to the Town Clerk’s department to enable cross-departmental delivery.
  3. Future events programmes to be commissioned by the cultural and heritage organisations in the Square Mile including the City’s Barbican Centre, Museum of London and Business Improvement Districts, businesses and relevant community interest companies.

Events that are supported by the City of London Corporation should support the strategic priorities and goals (e.g. driving Friday/Monday footfall), be regular (for example, monthly) and likely to be smaller scale than those run by Destination City to date.

  1. Establish a Destination City dashboard using the targets and measures set out in the independent review report.
  2. Commission future insights programme jointly with Business Improvement Districts having ensured that the data materially adds to the Destination City dashboard and focusses on market research on visitor originating area, attitudes and quality of experience.
  3. Reevaluate the social media strategy and the possible partnership approaches to this where duplication currently exists, focus effort on a comprehensive calendar of events, and achieving an enhanced sense of the City of London as the capital’s ‘Old Town’.
  4. Ensure lease conditions in relevant commercial areas reflect a curated and appealing visitor experience.
  5. Encourage relevant services working with children and young people to prioritise school visits that align with the Destination City priorities and the development of skills and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry.

CULTURE

  1. Request the Town Clerk/Chief Executive to consider options for the future Head of Profession for Culture as described and make an appropriate appointment to progress the cultural strategy.
  2. Align the new culture strategy with the Destination City vision in an approach that is collaborative, develops new partnerships and sets its sights on the City of London as an international cultural and heritage destination.

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