A fascinating example of the coalition’s cut-nose-to-spite-face approach emerges from Yorkshire, the county of my birth.
‘A long weekend in Yorkshire’ has just won the best marketing campaign, against some very stiff competition, in the World Travel Awards.
The campaign itself, and now the impact from this success, has and will continue to lead to more people travelling to, and spending money in, Yorkshire, helping to create more jobs in an undervalued sector of the economy, namely tourism.
But where does the coalition come in? It comes in at the point where you see where the money for the winning campaign, put together by an agency called Welcome to Yorkshire, came from … namely Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency being axed next March.
I have some experience of Yorkshire Forward and they are deservedly seen as one of the best among a pretty good bunch. This is but the latest tangible success they can point to. Tourism in Yorkshire is reckoned to be worth over £6bn. The campaign was followed by a 22 per cent rise in visitors, compared with 12 per cent for the whole of the UK. Not all of that will be down to the campaign, but some of it is. Not all of the campaign’s success will be down to the RDA, but some of it is.
Some of the government cuts may be needed. But cutting those services which lead to increased revenues really does look a bit silly.
I see the Guardian has started up a cutswatch site. I hope they are tracking these nose/face/spite situations too, not just the straightforward vandalism of libraries, parks, care services, museums, advice centres, school buildings, hospitals, police on the beat and personal photographers for the PM … oh sorry, we’re not cutting those, we’re INVESTING in them …