Value for Money (Supplementary) [6]

Session date: 
May 22, 2002
Question By: 
Mike Tuffrey
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Eric and the Conservatives seem to confuse value for money for actually spending less, whereas from our side it's about spending wisely. Londoners did give the Mayor substantially more money this year, but on culture and tourism he is spending the same - it's level spending in that area. I want to focus his attention to Teresa Wickham, chair of London Tourist Board, who resigned only a month ago and here's what she said when she resigned,

'London needs and deserves a properly funded and well managed organisation that is truly a representative of and reflects all aspects of tourism. There is a lack of urgency in getting a strategy moving for the future. An urgent action plan is needed. Ken is helping, but not doing enough. Until now all we have had are words. It's time for action'

Could the Mayor comment and respond to what she's had to say?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Value for Money (Supplementary) [6]

Answer for Value for Money (Supplementary) [6]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I'd be quite happy to quote the remainder of her letter where she congratulates me on the good working relationship we had and what we've been able to achieve. I think, once again, this reflects the flawed structure. I did not have immediate responsibility for tourism. It came in only after my first year. I had to negotiate the devolution of the money that the DCMS puts into tourism for London to the GLA and then on to the LDA who then devolve it down to the London Tourist Board. I think that's far too many layers of bureaucracy between the actual people taking decisions and the suppliers of the money.

We, I think, have had a very good response to the impact of 11 September. As the foot and mouth crisis impacted on London, we did what we could to try and attract more visitors from abroad. Once 11 September happened, it indicated something like a 30% to 50% reduction in the turnover of tourism-linked industries in the centre of London. The package we put in place clearly played some part in getting those figures back to relatively normal. Attendance at theatres was back to normal by the second week in December and I think the impact of our cheap tickets arrangement had a big impact there. We now are looking at a much better and co-ordinated tourism strategy for London and the key weakness was this: we were never allowed to advertise in Britain. That has now gone.

The idea we'll always be able to attract people from abroad is clearly not the case; it's massively impacted by the over-valued pound at the present time. A lot of the tourism that has come to London to take up the gap left by the Americans and the Japanese has been from the rest of Britain and we've played a key part in that. But we will continue to develop it. There will be an election for a new chair of the London Tourist Board in the new few days. It's a lively contest and I'll be looking forward to working with whoever wins it.