Are Birmingham Council using public funds to support the Tory conference ?

Iain Dale reports that the Tories are to hold their conference next year in Birmingham.

What concerns me though is that the council, led by the Tories, but with Lib Dem support are apparently underwriting £2 million in costs to get the Tories there. I also note the word "subsidy" is being used. Surely the council should not be "subsidising" the Tory conference ?

Would the council be doing this for the Labour Party ? Is the Tory led council showing massive political bias ? Certainly if this were a Labour council supporting the Labour Party conference in this way, questions would be asked.

Read Iain' article by clicking on the link HERE.


Iain Dale said...

I too am uncomfortable about subsidies, but all conference venues do it for all parties on the basis that they bring huge amounts of business to the towns.

Anonymous said...

It's very common for councils of all political make-ups to give financial incentives for conferences from all the main parties to come to their place, because of the big boost it gives to many local industries (e.g. hotel and restaurant).

So what's special about this one to make you ask all these questions?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Anonymous, it wasn't a particular dig at any political party, more the fact that I think the press would have had a field day if a Labour council was doing this for the Labour Party

Anonymous said...

Norfolk blogger, you are missing the point - what do you think happenend in Manchester.

FYI - subvention to conference town is not only common for political parties but also for unions and other large conference. I understand Blackpool treat Labour and Tories the same the other year and probrably your lot as well.

Anders Hanson said...

It is quite normal for councils of all colours to subsidise political parties holding their conferences in their town.

I was told, (although I don't know if it is true), that the reason the Lib Dems didn't go to Liverpool for a Spring Conference a few years a ago was because the city council withdrew its planned subsidy. The feeling being that as a Lib Dem council it should wait for another party to go first and then the subsidy that the Lib Dems got wouldn't look like favouritism.

Norfolk Blogger said...

When British companies pay sweeteners to foreign firms in order to win contracts, we are all up in arms over it. When a council pays sweeteners to get a party conference, its just "normal".

I am pleased to hear the Lib Dems have done the right thing in Liverpool.

Robert Wright said...

The question is whether the benefit from offering a "subsidy" is worth the cost of doing so. Councils subsidise all sorts of things - from funerals to the arts - because there are benefits for the local community in doing so that (at least in theory) exceed the costs.

For seaside resorts, there is an obvious benefit in attracting a conference in the autumn "off season" for the benefit to the local economy (particularly hotels and restaurants) of trade that would not otherwise happen.

I remain to be convinced how big the benefits to Birmingham (or even to Manchester), which can already attract hotel trade for most of the year, would be. But we shall no doubt see whether this is the case.

Praguetory said...

This is completely normal - in fact the sum mentioned is a lot lower than other cities have offered. Marketing Birmingham is attempting to get all three parties to Birmingham and has the latitude to negotiate at commercial terms. The Tories are the first and the event provides great publicity for the city.