West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

West Midland RDA Wasting Public Money?

Posted by Ken on October 20, 2006

This week the Telegraph reported that an internet accommodation service set up by British tourism chiefs at a cost of £10 million had produced only 428 booking for the season. VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, confirmed that millions of pounds of public money had been spent developing a new internet tool to boost online bookings for English hotels and B&Bs

Advantage West Midlands has been involved with this program called the England Net initiative.

Ms Henriette Lyttle-Breukelaar

Head of Tourism Policy

Advantage West Midlands

3 Priestley Wharf

Holt Street

Aston Science Park

Birmingham B7 4BN

Re. EnglandNet

Dear Ms Lyttle

I note from a report in the Telegraph that in its first summer of operation England Net has created a total of only 428 bookings for the whole of Great Britain, considering the massive amounts of public money that has been spent on this organisation I find these results alarming. To put this into a context I see that my own little web site which cost around £50 and a small amount of my time brought in 157 bookings in its first year.

I understand that England Net is not a booking agency but a national distribution system for tourism product and information. That it is funded in a number of ways:

-government grants

– from investment made by the English Tourism Council, British Tourist Authority and VisitBritain

– from investment and contributions by Regional Development Agencies RDA

 That some of the funding from Visit Britian is taken directly from the RDA allocation.

Which seems to indicate that the RDA`s have two separate funding streams to England Net.

  1. the RDA allocation from Visit Britian
  2. direct investment and contribution from the RDA`s 

As I understand the situation, England Net was forecast in 2005/06 to bring in some 25,000 online bookings, this figure to grow in 2007/08 to 30,250. As the forecast for this year was nothing like the reality, what hope is there that the second and third year will bring about a sudden improvement?

At the outset when setting up the Destination Management Partnerships (DMP) in the Shropshire and Telford sub region. There were some concerns expressed, about local authority domination of the DMP and loss of independence, accountability and effectiveness.

That the DMP would shift funding from successful marketing activities to fund an additional layer of bureaucracy, take a top down approach and change priorities, reduce or cut local member support and services. If the England Net episode is anything to go by I would have thought that those fears have been realised.

Will you please arrange to let me have the following information?

Out of the 428 bookings for the whole of Great Britian, how many were to the Advantage West Midlands region?

What is the total cost of setting up England Net to the Advantage West Midlands Region?

What are the estimated total ongoing costs on a yearly basis to the Advantage West Midlands Region of England Net, Including the expenditure by Heart of England Tourism, including Advantage West Midlands allocation from Visit Britian?

I note that VisitBritain is placing online activity at the heart of everything it does through EnglandNet and other web-based marketing work. In what way is this policy being revised in the Advantage West Midlands region in realisation of the very poor performance by the England Net initiative?

What, if any are the steps being undertaken by Advantage West Midlands to ensure that this apparent waste of public money is rectified?

Your Sincerely

Ken Adams

Copy to The Chairman of the West Midlands Assembly Councillor David Smith

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2 Responses to “West Midland RDA Wasting Public Money?”

  1. richard said

    hello ken,
    please can you tell me if you received a reply to this letter.
    i too saw the piece in the telegraph and many years ago watched this project from the inside turn into something it shouldnt.

    our rda in the north east has just spent £1.6 million on a regional destination management system with little uptake to date from the private sector.

    the rda have also sliced up englands smallest region into a further 4 unsustainable pieces or area tourism partnerships. so we now have local authorities doing tourism, the ATP’s and ONE and a private sector who have frankly given up.
    i keep thinking it cant get any worse…………..but it does.
    yours from the region that said NO to a regional government.
    richard

  2. Ken said

    Hi Richard

    Hi Richard thank you,
    Yes I have recived a reply but have been too busy to post it, sorry I will get to it soon, and thanks for the reminder
    Cheers Ken

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