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‘Give us more support’, industry tells MPs

London venues have told MPs that they need more support from government to help grow the industry
11/09/2018

Pictured: Jeremy Rees, Nigel Nathan and Simon Hughes giving evidence in Parliament on the London events sector

London venues told MPs that they need more support from government to help grow the industry in an evidence session in Parliament.

Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London, said that the capital’s venues were competing with their hands tied behind their backs, while QEII Centre board member Simon Hughes said the industry needed a dedicated representative in government.

The pair appeared before a panel at the first evidence session of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the events industry. Alongside Olympia London MD Nigel Nathan, they were quizzed on the London events sector by the panel, chaired by APPG chair James Heappey.

The panel was also due to hear evidence from a representative from the Mayor of London’s office, but City Hall did not send anyone to face the panel.

Addressing the panel, Rees said: “My sense is that there are greater opportunities for greater economic impact. We believe it, I’m not wholly convinced that you believe it yet.
We’re competing with our hands tied behind our back. We’re asking for support, not subvention. The events industry is a catalyst for trade.

“What would have a disproportionate impact would be focusing on the events we have and doubling the size of them.”

APPG member Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, said: “You sound like you’re whingeing a bit. I can see where government can support you more. But you haven’t given us any facts.”

Rees said: “With your help we can unlock more value and deliver messages and value across the UK. Pick a sector; there are world class events in it.

“All your constituents, their livelihoods are being driven by sector-based solutions. We’re just asking for your support. We need to work in a more cohesive way.

Hughes said: “To support the industry, give it somebody as a job to look after. Make it somebody’s job title.”

The second session saw Tracey Halliwell, director of tourism, conventions and major events at London & Partners discuss City Hall’s engagement with the industry. She appeared alone before the panel after the Mayor’s office declined to send a representative.

The third session saw tourism minister Michael Ellis insist that he was the link between the industry and government.

He said: “I’m the link. I’d like to send that message out, that includes business visits as well. We want to industry to know that we want to encourage as many visitors as possible.”


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