Monday, November 22, 2010

Edinburgh Council may privatise their Hogmanay party, this event should be protected and funded by the Scottish Government; it showcases Scotland

Dear All

Remember this:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?

Well it appears if you live in Edinburgh auld acquaintances will be forgotten as Council Chiefs consider “privatising” Scotland’s largest Hogmanay public street party.

The annual event in the Capital is one of the highlights that beam Scotland round the world as television showcases the Scottish Celebration of New Year.

Only one problem, over the last three it has been running at unacceptable loss.

This gets the question, if the Council can’t or don’t have the expertise to make a profit shouldn’t they get help or outsource the running?

The people of Edinburgh rightly expect a free Hogmanay public street party and as Council taxpayers they deserve it and have paid for it.

What I can’t understand is why the event ran for five days in the first place, when it should be cut down to three.

The Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Party is a massive money earner which benefits many businesses in the city with tourists flocking to the event, so it should be save and protected as a national event.

The problem with councils is that they don’t think like commercial companies in how to generate profits, they aren’t innovative; they just live off their budgets because there is no incentive to operate areas to be profitable.

The ticket administration price is £15 this year, £15 to attend the largest Hogmanay public street party!

Clearly this is too low; you could charge double that price and still get people willing to come for what is one of Edinburgh’s special nights.

If you think about £15 to hear some of the top bands in Britain is peanuts.

The Council have to understand that events like this are purely business.

And the business of business is business.

A council source opines:

“The new year celebrations are an asset to the city and to the wider economy. But the council tax-payer should not have to foot the bill. Scale may also be a factor in future.”

This is the wrong mentality, rather than organically grown the event, they are are retreating because they have adopted a council budget mentality.

One document to councillors said:

“Each year it (Edinburgh’s Hogmanay) generates in excess of £30m of economic impact for the city. This does not, however, directly relieve the requirement of council funding. The costs of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay are considerable and most relate to the street party element.”

Surely £30 million in revenue flowing into city businesses is worth protecting?

Some times you have to take a hit for the greater good but it doesn’t stop you planning for success.

Can Edinburgh Council do that?

The trams fiasco raises doubts on their abilities to manage.

Jenny Dawe, council leader, said:

“At a time when money is so tight, it is understandable that questions are asked about continued support for campaigns and events. However, I remain totally committed to the concept of supporting our tourist, creative, transport and retail industries with major campaigns and events, while recognising that all partners need to operate as efficiently as possible.”

Just words from Lib Dem Council leader Jenny Dawe!

Given the significance of the Edinburgh Hogmanay event, it should be funded by the Scottish Government by a special grant. The event is more than itself; it is about enhancing the reputation of Scotland around the world.

If the people who run it can’t manage and make a profit then get rid of them and get someone who can.

The biggest event in Scotland must be protected.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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