MD1277 New Year's Eve 2014-16

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD1277
Date signed: 
19 November 2013
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations on 31st December have been staged by the GLA since 2003.  The event attracts an estimated 250,000 people into designated viewing areas between Lambeth and Blackfriars bridges, with a further 300,000 people in the vicinity (research showing that approximately 74% of these are visitors from the rest of the UK and Europe), thereby generating a significant benefit to London’s tourism industry over the New Year period.

Following a piece of scoping work looking at alternative options and locations for New Year’s Eve 2014 – 2016, there is a requirement to formally approve a 3 year plan and budget allocation for New Year’s Eve. This plan will enable longer-term commercial opportunities to be realised.

Decision

That the Mayor approves:

1. Allocation of annual funding towards the implementation of 2014 – 2016 (3 year) New Year’s Eve events (as set out in Part 2).

2. The event remaining at its current location for the next 3 years as a free-to-attend public event.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The New Year’s Eve event is a key activity to support the international promotion of London.  In 2012, the 250,000 capacity viewing areas were full earlier than ever (which has a budget implication in terms of stewarding and set-up times), with several hundred thousand more in and around the walking routes outside of the event footprint (estimated at 300,000).  From research undertaken for the event in 2012, 74% of the audience lived and worked outside of London.  Research from 2011 showed that 56% of the audience spent over £200 as a result of the event – with the average spend per person being £53.22.  This equates to approximately £30 million visitor spend in the local economy. 

The television, and other media coverage, is an important element for the event, generating national and international coverage that promotes London.  In 2012, the BBC had a peak time audience of 13.3m.  Additionally, scores of national and international broadcast, print and digital media attended the event providing news and website coverage around the world.

The NYE event also gives a focus to crowds visiting London on New Year’s Eve, providing a structured crowd management plan.  Without the event, the statutory agencies including MPS, TfL and local authorities would still need to implement a suitable crowd management plan.

The event has grown in popularity and public awareness over the years, which has led to increased costs from an extended foot print and more crowd control measures implemented. To try to combat these cost increases and the impact on the public purse; officers have conducted a piece of scoping work to explore the options of delivering a New Year’s Eve event for a reduced budget, or an increased commercial investment.  This work indicated that the current location delivered most effectively against the set objectives. Further consultation on the ticketed option demonstrated considerable challenges and costs to develop and implement.

A proposal for a 3 year event plan was approved, subject to budget approval under this MD, at the GLA’s Events Steering Group (GESG) on 13 August 2013 and the Investment and Performance Board (IPB) on 11 September 2013.  To meet the expected cost of the event over three years, a budget allocation is being requested; with the remaining sums required to deliver the event proposed to come from sponsorship which the event organiser will be responsible for securing as part of their contract terms. 

It is proposed to use the GLA’s newly established Events Framework, which will be in effect from January 2014, to procure an event organiser for 3 years (2014 – 2016) maintaining the current event delivery model (the event organiser seeking sponsorship to part-fund the event) at the current location. 

The event organiser will be responsible for delivering the event to an agreed specification and the quality and safety measures would need to be to the satisfaction of the GLA and statutory agencies.  Due to the popularity of the event, a significant proportion of the event budget will need to be spent on crowd management measures to ensure that access to viewing areas is controlled and that safe capacity is not exceeded.  Agencies such as the Metropolitan Police Service, TfL, British Transport Police, along with National Rail (station operators of Charing Cross, Waterloo, Victoria and Blackfriars), and the local authorities will also have demands on the event organiser to provide or support such services, particularly to manage post event crowds following the event.

Given that a significant proportion of the audience are from outside of London, budget will be required to ensure that the GLA can develop an effective communications campaign, including 100,000 event viewing area maps distributed around the viewing area on the day of the event, which will include specific transport information for the return journey, produced in association with TfL.  The Traffic Management Order (TMO) will also be delivered in partnership with MPS, TfL and GLA, with the costs for advertising/publishing the TMO being covered by GLA. 

Other considerations

a)    Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities

In approving the staging of London’s New Year’s Eve event 2014-2016, this project directly links to:

1.    Developing world-class events in line with the Mayor’s Cultural Strategy – to assist in the development of a stimulating, creative and cultural London; and

2.    Promoting sustained economic growth and competitiveness of London as a World City through tourism, economic development and positive media coverage.

b)    Impact assessments and Consultation

An event of the scale of New Year’s Eve inevitably brings high costs to ensure its delivery, as well as meeting logistical challenges.  That said, the event also offers real economic benefit in terms of the increased tourism and profile of London as a result of the event.

During audience research undertaken for the 2012 event, 74% of the audience lived and worked outside of London, with 56% spending more than £200 during their visit in 2011( an average of £53.22 per person). This indicates the significant benefit of the event to London’s visitor economy – approximately £30 million.  As well as attracting visitors, New Year’s Eve is a celebration marked by the overwhelming majority of Londoners.  The event will be accessible to all through national media coverage and broadcast live on national, and international, television.

There has previously been wide-ranging discussion with appropriate Boroughs, police and emergency services, and transport providers about the appropriate means to mark New Year in London.  Currently, the key agencies involved in delivering this event (Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade, Port of London Authority, the Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, the City of London and Westminster, Transport for London, British Transport Police, Royal Parks, London Eye, and London and Partners) continue to support the staging of the event as a manageable and effective means to mark New Year’s Eve and manage crowds celebrating in the capital. These agencies are fully engaged in this event and continue to work with the Events for London Unit via a year-round multi agency event planning process to ensure safe delivery of the event.

Consultation will also be carried out by the event organiser as part of their delivery role, with all residents and businesses affected by the event and the outcome of all such consultation will be factored into the delivery of the event, as considered appropriate. 

Given that the celebration is also used by London and Partners as a key event in the promotion of London to both domestic and overseas visitors, London and Partners will also carry out appropriate consultation with its members to assess the benefits of the proposals to tourism and the visitor economy in London.

c)    Risk

A GLA Events Risk Register will be completed for this event and will be regularly reviewed until project closedown with high, medium and low risks identified and control measures put in place.  

The key risks at present to the authority are highlighted as:

•    Risk: If the GLA does not deliver the New Year’s Eve event, there is a reputational risk to London/GLA – both in terms of visitors coming to London in the expectation of it happening; tourism businesses selling on the back of the event happening; and any negative media arising from London not being able to compete with other global cities. Additionally this would put increased pressure on local authorities and other GLA bodies including MPS and TfL based on the large crowds that would still come to London to celebrate the New Year.  Mitigation: if the event/s were not to happen (either through non approval of this proposal, or subsequent decisions not to stage years 2014, 2015 and/or 2016), then a proactive media communications offensive will be established to ensure that the GLA message is widely communicated. 
•    Risk:  Level of control slightly reduced due to need to take into account partners – commercial pressure on the GLA.  Mitigation:  That all planning elements will need to be agreed by the multi-agency process to ensure all elements can be delivered safely.
•    Risk: Sponsors may not be appropriate.  Mitigation: GLA will have a veto on all sponsors secured (either internally or via the event organiser), with approval not being unreasonably withheld; however, the refusal of the GLA to accept potential sponsors may compromise the commercial model and budget line.
•    Risk: That statutory agencies (MPS, TfL, local authorities, land owners) charge/increase costs for their support, or reduce their resources, requiring more (e.g. stewards) provided by the GLA. Mitigation: Working with key agencies via Major Events Oversight Board, to ensure support and buy-in from key agencies.
•    Risk: The event may be cancelled due to force majeure (e.g. weather, riots, industrial action, death of a major Royal etc.). Mitigation: External issues monitored via project planning and risk assessment. 
•    Risk: Late amendments to the event due to external factors could have an impact on budget and cause overspend (e.g. increased stewards in reaction to protestors/higher than expected crowds etc.) could have an impact on budget and cause overspend. Mitigation: Tight project management and budgetary control, with readjustment to budget lines to manage increases in particular areas (with other cuts/reductions made in other budget lines where possible.
  
Specifically with regards to the delivery of the event, the event organiser will be required to indemnify the GLA against all claims, demands, actions, proceedings and all damages, losses, costs and expenses, and to provide appropriate and adequate insurance policies.  They are also required to ensure that all elements of the event are planned and implemented in accordance with best practice as set out in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Event Safety Guide (the ’Purple Guide’) and other such guidance appropriate to the event being staged, and to provide an event specific detailed risk assessment of all Health and Safety and crowd management issues associated with the staging of the event, which will be reviewed and agreed by stakeholders though a Licensing, Operational Planning and Safety Group (LOPSG). 

This LOPSG is the multi-agency events planning framework within which the event will be planned, which includes representation from all key agencies involved in delivering this event, including, but not limited to, the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, London Ambulance Service, Fire Authority, Port of London Authority, the Boroughs of Lambeth and Westminster, Transport for London, British Transport Police, The Royal Parks and the London Eye.

 

Financial comments

3.1       Approval is being sought for budget allocation and associated expenditure to deliver the New Year’s Eve events in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The budget is to be held within the Events for London Programme, External Relations Unit (External Affairs Directorate) in the respective financial years, subject to approval via the annual budget process.

3.2       The External Relations Unit (External Affairs Directorate) will be responsible for managing this project and ensure compliance with the Authority’s Financial Regulations, Contracts & Funding Code and Expenses & Benefits Framework (wherever applicable).

3.3       Further financial comments of this report have been considered to be confidential under the Freedom of Information Act and have been included as a part 2 decision.

 

Investment and Performance Board

The New Year’s Eve events 2014 – 2016 were considered and approved by the Investment Performance Review Board (IPB) on 11 September 2013.