1. The Westminster Government have now responded to the House of Lords’ Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities Select Committee, inquiry on The Future of Seaside Towns. Of overarching interest to all will be the outright rejection of any reduction in VAT on Tourism at paragraph 6 page 8 of the response.
Sadly, for those with an interest in the inquiry there is no easy option other than to scan all 38 recommendations pages 7 to 37 and then focus on the response to those recommendations that are of most immediate interest to your own circumstances.
Comments on the sector deal and tourism zones paragraphs 3, 4 and 5, the future of the Coastal Community Fund (beyond 2021 a matter for the forthcoming spending review) at paragraph 34, the rejection of any further enterprise zones paragraph 34 and various references to the Future High Street Fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund, found throughout, where of most immediate interest to me. As with most of these responses, the reply has been used to highlight what Government has already done or are planning to do, rather than necessarily saying anything of real substance that addresses the concerns underpinning each recommendations made. See the response on the consultation page (4th link down): https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/regenerating-seaside-towns-communities-select-committee-call-for-evidence-closes-9-october-18/
2. Those with direct or indirect interest in the provision of theatre, conference and indoor events facilities may wish to note that Preston Guild Hall has recently gone into administration. Bought for £1 from Preston Council in 2014 the venue has seen considerable investment. Its current owners are still hopeful that the new operators will be found and that the venue will reopen soon: https://www.lep.co.uk/business/pledge-to-re-open-preston-guild-hall-within-weeks-after-administration-shock-1-9806303 .
3. Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall and co-presenter Anita Rani’s three-part BBC documentary due to start on Monday 10 June is likely to help raise public anxiety around single use plastic up a notch or two more ahead of Government consultations on various measures to reduce, recover and recycle plastic. A printed teaser in the popular press two weekends ago has already resulted in the Malaysian Government promising to return large quantities of poor quality or contaminated plastic waste to source, including the UK and to clamp down on (ban?) the recycling trade in Malaysia which has boomed since China’s ban on accepting Western Nation’s plastics for recycling. The Malaysian issue although only a small part of the programme does beg some serious question about the infrastructure requirement to cope with current levels of plastic recycling in the UK, let alone that required should measure like an effective deposit return scheme (RDS) be adopted in 2020 as Government are currently promising: https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/anita-rani-and-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall-reveal-how-much-waste-we-generate/
4. If nothing else the Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall teaser reports reinforced my own growing realisation that reducing single use plastics isn’t the simple linear process. I have as promised asked colleague in various other industry trade bodies what their stance is on Return Deposit Schemes. Unsurprisingly the pub, restaurant and hotel trade bodies are all pushing for exemption from RDS for all on-sales and, thus, the bulk of their sales. They really don’t have any other views on the wider impacts or how to make the scheme work effectively across other businesses. It does makes perfect sense for them to do this but it does means that the wider potential implications for other businesses, and on such peripherals as, for example, place making and on waste and litter management aren’t being addressed from a tourism and visitor economy prospective by any of the larger “tourism industry” players. Nor are issue like how do make the scheme work in practice if identical containers sold in different circumstances have a significantly different notional value? Can I take my empty bottle from the pub and claim a refund from the off-licence? Or could someone take hundreds of thousands of bottles from the pub waste stream and claim the deposit from the RDS waste management “organisation”? The devil will be in the detail. I will continue to raise the need for a practical, widely applicable industry solution with the Tourism Alliance. Meanwhile any local views on the best way forward or suggested solutions would be appreciated.