The Election Section: the event industry talks politics

With cringeworthy television debates, observations about David Cameron’s resemblance to a leg of ham, and some good old fashioned scaremongering, it’s easy to get lost in the General Election whirlwind. Luckily, Access is on hand to ask the industry’s top brass to make sense of what might happen in a post-election world.

Dale Parmenter, group CEO, drp
To a certain point it all becomes a bit of lip service with all parties fighting for everyone’s vote. They all want to help put Britain on the map and provide more income for the economy; none of the parties really do discuss the event industry as a whole. The current Government has helped the industry but probably not enough. From a business point of view, whoever comes in as the new Government needs to keep looking at regulation and red tape and almost back off and just let us get on with running business while they get on running Government. Collaboration is key here and they need to collaborate more with the sector. The industry still isn’t being recognised and it’s such an important player in the British economy. The key change I would like to see is for them to sit down with us to take notice of our industry and how we can make a positive difference to the UK economy.

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Simon Hughes, founder MCH Associates
The election comes at a time when the DCMS are starting to make some really positive promises about events, and they seem to be finally awaking to their cultural and economic impact. Luckily, across all of the political parties, the message has been taken onboard, and whoever gets in, the cogs are turning with regards to promoting our industry internationally. While Visit Britain was subject to debilitating cuts around 2010, it is now leading a charge to promote tourism and is campaigning to get big events over here. Having, for example, a major festival is a real economic impact for us. There are few certainties in predicting what might happen should a particular party get in, but certainly it was disappointing  to hear that the Labour party had listed the QEII Conference Centre among the buildings it could potentially sell if elected. I’m not sure what the latest thinking is by them, on this, but certainly they had totally missed how important the venue is in terms of its economic impact. Meanwhile, events like the Magna Carta anniversary have helped affirm the importance of events to the UK.

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Chris Skeith, CEO, AEO
I watched the recent live election leader debate with interest but came away feeling that when the subject of economic growth was raised, there was a distinct lack of future gazing and vision required to inspire business leaders.

No matter who the election winner or winners are, as an industry we need to be clear and confident in what we want to achieve and ensure we are making ourselves heard. Good progress is already being made in obtaining due recognition for the UK events industry’s valuable contribution to the economy. AEO is cited in the recent Business Visits and Events Strategy and the investment
AEO and our members are making in developing relationships within government departments will continue.

The changes I would like to see from whichever party wins the election are increased recognition and support of industries, like the events industry, that can and do put the UK on the map. I would hope that the new government would want to help boost UK trade by embracing the new Business Visits and Events Strategy, new Board and the APPG for Events.

In addition, greater investment in driving innovation and creativity and the development of an environment that promotes trade and nurtures business leaders of the future. It would be great to see industry practitioners hold positions of power regardless of political persuasion so they can represent the ‘event industry party’ and make positive change.

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Emily Huddart, development and support manager, EventServ
It is generally accepted that things have been getting better for the events industry as the economy has started to stabilise under the coalition. 2015 looks good at the moment and I’m concerned about anything that might change that, so I am slightly wary about the disruption the election may bring. I was both interested and concerned to listen to the promises by Labour to end ‘zero hours Britain’. The assumption that all zero-hours contracts are bad should be questioned. Zero-hours has always been part of the event and hospitality industry. Using casual or temporary employees is how we manage the peaks and troughs throughout the year. These contracts can suit your team just as much as it does the employer – relaxed relationships offering variety, experience and flexibility of hours. I just wonder if Labour has looked at the benefits as well as the negatives.

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