There are fears for the event industry’s representation at UK government level after Tourism and Heritage minister John Penrose MP lost his job in Prime Minister David Cameron’s latest round of political musical chairs.
The move to trim the Culture, Media and Sports Department (DCMS) caused even Cameron’s fellow Conservative MP and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events chairman Nick de Bois MP to express fears of a ‘vacuum’ appearing in the Government's event industry representation.
De Bois reacted to the news as he hosted a special Britain for Events briefing on Events in the Community at the House of Commons on 5 September. He pledged to work hard to make sure a vacuum did not appear. The fear is Penrose’s role will simply be redistributed within a shrinking DCMS.
"I'm not convinced a redistribution is the right thing to do," De Bois said.
Business Visits and Events Partnership Chairman Michael Hirst, who is also campaign coordinator for Britain for Events, said it will be seeking urgent meetings to put the industry's case forward.
"The news of Penrose's departure underlines the need for the industry to find new conduits within government to understand the breadth of benefits which are delivered by events," he said.
"We hope that both DCMS, through the appointment of the new Secretary of State, Maria Miller and BIS, through its agency, UKTI, will want to work with the industry to ensure maximum benefit to tourism, creative enterprise, trade and exports."
Hirst pointed out several other ministerial appointments could be constructive for the events industry.
“On the business visits/events front it is good to see Paul Deighton [former LOCOG chief] appointed to drive infrastructure. His Olympic experience will bring a good understanding of our issues,” he said. He also welcomed “a good raft of new Business, Innovation and Skills ministers to push deregulation and growth strategy”.
“The new Secretary of State for Transport looks promising for Aviation capacity in the medium term. Andy Grove, head of the Local Authority Event Organisers Group, is based in her own constituency of Basingstoke, so hopefully she'll have been influenced by the work being done locally.”
The new DCMS Secretary of State was a junior minister in the Department for Work and Pensions and is a wild card replacement for Jeremy Hunt, who was promoted to the Health portfolio. Miller will also have to deal with the Olympic legacy, the final report on the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and an arts sector suffering from major public-spending cuts.
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