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Taking away the QEII Centre is 'madness', say event planners

Event professionals rally to save the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEII) from being used by House of Lords

Pictured: a petition established by QEII board member Simon Hughes and M&IT is calling for the government to use an alternative venue during refurbishment work

Event professionals from around the world are rallying to save the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEII) from being used by the House of Lords during the Westminster refurbishment, saying taking it away would be "madness".

More than 100 industry professionals have signed a petition urging the government to consider an alternative venue, as part of a campaign called Hands off Our QEII which has been launched by QEII board member Simon Hughes and M&IT.

Along with signatures from industry professionals from across the UK and as far away as Spain, Germany, Serbia, Norway and the US, the campaign has also attracted support from chair of the Events Industry Board Nick de Bois.

De Bois said: "The possibility of a temporary move of the House of Lords to London's QEII Centre could pose a threat to the present commercial viability of the conference centre. Event organisers book years in advance and any lingering uncertainty as to the availability of the QEII will quite probably mean other international venues being considered instead. I hope nothing will be done to undermine the city's continuing success in this field and an alternative choice is made."

A report into the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament, handed down earlier this month, recommended the House of Lords establish a temporary chamber and offices in the QEII while a six-year project is carried out from 2020.

Pat Sandall, an events professional based in Spain, signed the petition saying: "London has a dearth of suitable spaces as it is - removing this valuable space from the city's inventory is madness."

Caroline Windsor, joint-chair of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), said: "We cannot attract major international conferences to London without a purpose built, centrally located conference centre like the QEII. This is a major threat to London's business tourism."

Alan Newton, CEO of Eventopedia, added: "The value to the wider London economy from events and conferences should not be underestimated, and the QEII is a popular Westminster venue for a whole host of events."

Netherlands-based Ben Goedegebuure of Maritz Travel said: "The QEII provides a superb conference centre product in the heart of London - taking that away from the market would be inappropriate and a real loss for domestic UK and international clients alike."

To register your support for the QEII Centre, sign the petition here or leave a comment underneath.

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