Thursday, 7 October 2010

Council House to be Wrapped in Cotton Wool - Or Is It?

A while ago I wrote about the council's refusal to allow the East Midlands Vegan Festival to be held at the Council House, citing all those DM clad vegan feet causing 'wear and tear' as the reason. I was a bit cynical so I did the usual and put in a Freedom of Information request to see if this policy was being applied consistently. Results are in and they are somewhat inconclusive.

First thing to note is that the restriction on usage doesn't appear to be part of a formal decision making process. They provided a copy of a portfolio decision to review the charging policy but there's no mention of anything to do with new numbers restrictions. They provide a separate document setting out events they no longer accept but that looks like it was drawn up specifically for my FoI response.

Looking through the list of events (MSExcel document) that they provided it is apparent that there were still a number of 200 capacity events held throughout 2010 but none listed as 'drop-in', which EMVF is described as in earlier years. It seems that it's this 'drop-in' nature of larger events that seems to be the deal breaker in their eyes.

Also, the 'events we no longer accept' document provides specific examples of events they've turned down including two jobs fairs, RNIB low vision awareness day and the Trent Uni fashion show which all seem to be 200 capacity drop-in jobs. So, presuming that the 'drop-in' nature really is more damaging then it all started looking fair enough, if maybe a little over protective.

But doubts remain. This year's jobs fair seems to be a much larger event than in previous years and the Council House wouldn't have been big enough. Trent Uni used the refurbished Newton Building as its venue for the fashion show which is arguably at least as prestigious and they would have been keen to show it off. So that's two events that have valid reasons to switch venues other than so-called 'wear and tear'. I can't find any mention of the Low Vision Awareness Day anywhere on NCC's website or anywhere else.

And then there's the Deaf Awareness Day held on 13 October (might as well give them a plug while we're here, hope they do keep on hosting it at the Council House) which does look suspiciously like a 'drop-in' event and is likely to be very popular. Is EMVF likely to be anymore damaging?

I must emphasise that the point here is not to say 'don't hold the Deaf Awareness Day' but to say why not host the EMVF? It seems to me that inconsistent decisions are being made on the hoof at best. Alternatively there may be some double standards being applied, deliberately or otherwise.


Niles said...

They have just replaced all the carpets.

Can you get vegan DMs?

Wonder whether some of the stalls might trip the "Seminars and conferences by political groups or on subjects that may cause the Council embarrassment" criterion - I was a bit surprised to find hunt sabs there when I went a few years ago, but they seemed to have teh same posters as some of the ones that get fly-postered, and that's not ideal.

And the Lib Dems have been banned! Or at least we considered the venue for a regional conference once and were told we were a political group and so no. Presumably applies to every other political party.

Andy said...

Vegan DMs definitely used to be available yes, not absolutely sure if they still are.

I would have thought that hunt sabs would be welcomed with open arms, after all they are a group dedicated to upholding the law. For now at least.

I imagine it's just the Lib Dems that they find embarrassing...;)