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Thursday, March 03, 2005


Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

While we're on the subject of the Liberal Democrat party conference, I see that one of the exhibition stands in Harrogate next weekend will be hosted by a body called the Blackpool Conference Bureau.

The party had the misfortune to be forced to relocate its September 2005 conference venue to Blackpool after a 15-year hiatus, when plans to hold the conference in Gateshead fell through.

In the conference agenda booklet (pdf download
here), the Blackpool Conference Bureau's blurb is upbeat:

Your opportunity to get your first taste of Blackpool.
Unfortunately it isn't, as there are still many of us with long and bitter memories of conferences in this windswept shit-hole.

Come and meet the team to discuss accommodation requirements.
I'll tell them my "accommodation requirements". I want a hotel with amenities considered standard elsewhere in the civilised world, such as central heating, soft toilet paper, and showers that deliver more than a dribble of tepid water. I do not want tatty pink candlewick bedspreads with nylon sheets, towels so worn-out that they feel like sandpaper, petty rules on handwritten notices pinned to every wall, or greasy breakfasts made from cheap ingredients that should have been condemned as unfit for human consumption. When I pay for a service, I do not wish to be confronted with a "take it or leave it", "don't you know there's a war on", "breakfast finished five minutes ago" attitude.

Blackpool just doesn't get it and, as a consequence, its tourist economy is falling through the floor. Its annual visitor numbers have declined from 16.8 million in 1989 to 11.1 million in 1999, a drop of 5.7 million over ten years, or 0.57 million per year. At that rate, the number of visitors will reach zero by the year 2018.

I am not always in favour of unleashing the harsher forces of the free market, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be cruel.

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