Event Organisers Update March 2021 ISSUE 196 - an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO).

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Event Organisers Update

The newsletter for organisers of events.

NEWS

DEMONSTRABLE STUPIDITY
One group of event organisers in danger of becoming the most vilified are those who organise public demonstrations and protests, and have thoughtlessly continued to do so in 2020/2021, breaching lockdown rules and endangering public health. Presumably they consider their cause far more important than the deaths of some people they don't know?

One especially worrying development is the presence in demonstrations of a thug element, prepared to escalate what is in normal times, a lawful and peaceful event into a lawless, violent one. The protests in Bristol over new powers proposed to be given to the police in respect of dealing with demonstrations is a recent example, where windows were smashed, police vehicles were set on fire and more than 40 police officers and a journalist assaulted, some left with broken bones. In this case the violence was performed by around 500 protesters out of a group of 3,000, a dangerous minority described by Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation as "a mob of animals".

It is these mobs, and their violent actions that the organisers clearly can't, or maybe wont control, that the new powers are aimed at curtailing, for the safety of all. And the reason why we so badly need to give these extra powers to our police forces has ironically been demonstrated by the mobs, all too clearly.

 

BIG DIVE IN PASSENGER NUMBERS, AND CO2
The UK's fifteen busiest airports have suffered a total reduction of 209 million passengers, equivalent to a percentage reduction overall of 75%, between 2019 and 2020, the effect of the pandemic. (Source: Civil Aviation Authority Mybaggage.com)

Worst hit on passenger numbers was Heathrow, with a drop of more than 59 million (72.7%) followed by Gatwick (36+million, 78.2%) Manchester (22+million, 76.1%) Stansted (20+ million, 73.2%) and Luton (12+ million, 69.5%) The total drop for the five worst-hit was around 150 million or 72% of the total losses.

The massive loss of passenger numbers will also be reflected in losses at airport shops, and shops, hotels and restaurants overseas. The same period also saw a 60% drop in CO2 emissions from aviation.

 

FRAUD BUST
Some extravagant spending of ill-gotten gains in London's pricey boutiques identified two fraudsters who had swindled more than £20 million from hundreds of customers of two major banks, in a "smishing" scam.

This involves sending genuine-looking mobile phone text messages pretending to be from organisations such as banks and the NHS for the purpose of collecting the personal and financial information needed to steal from bank accounts.

For their high-tech crimes Quin Huang, 27, was jailed for five and a half years and Clarke Morgan-Finlay, also 27, for two and a half years.

In the last year an estimated £1billion has been taken from Britons by fraudsters, while the Home Office has quietly shelved its Joint Fraud Taskforce, a committee responsible for co-ordinating British police and financial regulators in the fight against fraud…

 

SCAM ALERTS
This may be an old scam but we've just received an email from "Email Service" telling us that our inbox is "overloaded" and advising us to click on the link supplied "to resolve the issue". We understand that those doing this are risking someone taking over their inbox, so we didn't. Has anyone else out there had this email?

Meanwhile consumer rights group Which? has launched a free scam alert service, delivering details of new scams to subscriber's inboxes.

w. which.co.uk/scamalerts

 

MORE INTEREST FROM EVENT ORGANISERS, BUT NO SITE INSPECTIONS YET
Despite a 24% increase in enquiries from event oganisers, venues are still not allowed to offer them site inspections.

Government guidance indicates that these may be possible from May 17, depending on the progress of infections. However, given that organisers are unwilling to book business at venues until a site inspection has taken place the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) claims that the restrictions are "blocking the return of a £70 billion industry".

 

MORE LOCKDOWN CONVICTIONS

o Karen Reissmann, 61, an NHS mental health worker and union representative was fined £10,000 for organising a protest in Manchester City for 40 people against the NHS workers 1% pay rise plan.

o A man and a woman from Liverpool have each been fined for returning from Dubai and failing to quarantine.

o Seventy guests attending two parties in Mayfair, London, have been fined £800 each.

o A man who supplied speakers for an illegal 3,000 strong rave in the Brecon Beacons last summer has been fined £4,000

 

AND OVERSEAS

o A British citizen, Nigel Skea, has been jailed for two weeks and fined £533 for contravening quarantine orders in Singapore.

o More than 1,000 people have been arrested at Florida's Miami Beach resort, 70 with guns, for breaching Covid rules and rioting against the police.

 

VENUE NEWS

o The new 88-bedroom Telegraph Hotel, Corporation Street, Coventry opens on May 17, following a two-year, £18 million investment programme. (TheBusinessDesk.com) The building was formerly the HQ of the Coventry Telegraph Bedrooms include two-level loft-style penthouse suites and the hotel's outdoor rooftop bar, Generators, will open on April 14 for cocktails and a tapas menu for a maximum group size of six drinkers.

o A new 150-bed hotel is part of regeneration scheme, the Goods Yard, next to Stoke on Trent railway station (TheBusinessDesk.com)

o A new 18-bedroom hotel, the Doghouse, is to be opened by the BrewDog group in Manchester this June. (TheBusinessDesk.com)

o A new 195-bedroom Aloft hotel, the Aloift Birmingham Eastside, is opened by Marriott next month adjacent to new conference and events venue The Eastside Rooms, offering 23 event and meeting spaces. (TheBusinessDesk.com)

o The Holiday Club, a chain of five hotels in the Canary Islands was facing laying off 100 staff due to hotels empty of tourists because of travel restrictions, but instead has housed, in co-operation with the Red Cross, up to 300 migrants from West Africa.

o Two top-rated conference and wedding hotels run by the Sundial Group, Highgate House in Creaton. Northants and Woodside Conference Centre in Kenilworth have closed and called in administrators due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. (TheBusinessDesk.com)

o A new £48million, 147 bedroom Hampton by Hilton hotel is planned for completion at Trafford Park, Manchester, by April 2023. (TheBusinessDesk.com)

CATCH-UP TV

o Two interesting and thought-provoking documentaries we've enjoyed from BBC Three on player were Odd One Out and Sara McDermott: Revenge Porn.

The first features former Liitle Mix member Jesy Nelson, 29, who left the band last December citing serious concerns over her mental health. This was damaged by the online bullying and abuse over her weight and how she looked she had been singled out for by internet trolls, all bravely staying anonymous of course. The abuse, which started after the band won the X Factor competition in 2001 was bad and unrelenting enough to reportedly drive her to attempt to take her own life in 2003. Fortunately this failed, which would have upset her sick trolls.

Overall a worrying look at the serious dangers for young women in taking some of the dross on social media too seriously. And good to note that Nelson is now well on the way to full recovery.

The second was the story of another young woman who, arguably less than careful, sent images of herself, naked, twice, only to have them posted on the internet. Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn revealed that, when McDermott, 24, was just 14, bullied and at school, one of the boys there pestered her to send nude photos of herself. Hoping that it might make her more popular, and less bullied, she did, and the boy then circulated them around the whole school, resulting in her being blamed for her stupidity in complying, and being suspended. Seven years later, when she was 21 it happened again. This time the one sharing the images of her naked was an ex she had liked and trusted and he circulated them while she was appearing on TV reality show, Love Island.

Perhaps this is a lesson for all in never sending anything to anyone that you would not want published to everyone?

MOVIE SPOT

NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950)
Fans of film noir, and one of its archetypal protagonists, Richard Widmark, will probably know that this celebrated noir about a loser and nasty racketeers was shot exclusively in London's sleazy backstreets, and is available to view, free, on YouTube.

Here Widmark delivers a remarkable performance as small-time con-man and fantasist Harry Fabian, who is constantly looking for the Next Big Thing that will make him his fortune and a life of ease. One of these is a pill that costs nothing to make and, he believes, triples the mileage of a car when dropped into the petrol tank. Another is a partnership in a new dog-track in Birmingham. For all his schemes Harry needs investment money he doesn't have, so he tries to borrow it from his long-suffering girlfriend, Mary Bristol, well played by top beauty Gene Tierney, best remembered for the title role in the five-star rated Laura. (1944)

Fabian's only regular work is hustling suckers to a seedy Soho clip joint on the promise of seeing a "hot" floor show, rather than be conned into buying very expensive bottles of champagne and cartons of cigarettes for "escorts", which is what actually happens. The clip joint, the Silver Fox Cafe, is owned by the rotund Phil Nosseross (Francis.L.Sullivan) and run by his wife Helen, played by Googie Withers, who would like to obtain a night-club license.

While hustling suckers at a huge sports arena owned by Kristo, played by a master of sinister, Herbert Lom, Fabian learns that Kristo's father Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko, a real-life former heavyweight wrestling champion) a talented exponent of traditional Greco-Roman wrestling, hates the fixed fights that his criminal son puts on for money Fabian sees his chance and cons Gregorius into believing that he, Fabian, will promote the "true" sport as long as Gregorius will lend his name to it, something to which Kristo very reluctantly agrees. To get the money together Fabian approaches Phil Nosseross who says his wife Helen will finance him if he can get her the night-club license she craves. Fabian supplies her with a forged one and she leaves her husband, who then colludes with Kristo and tells Fabian he will back him only if he can get Gregorius to fight the Strangler, (Mike Mazurki) a low-life wrestling thug despised by Gregorius. A fight goes ahead, but in true noir style, has tragic consequences…

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Tuesday
It was depressing to read that a number of states in the US have now lifted the restrictions put in place to protect their people from Covid-19. These states include Louisiana, Mississippi and Michigan, and now Texas, where 43,000 of the US total of more than 500,000, have died of the disease, the third highest death toll.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott tells the world "It's time to open up Texas" and points out the benefits he is bestowing on the business sector, which have gone down a storm with voters at Chambers of Commerce there.

So, don't you feel lucky you don't live there?

 

Wednesday
Equally depressing it was to read that 43% of people over 80 who had received their first vaccination had then breached lockdown rules by meeting people indoors who were not personal care support workers, members of their household or support bubble, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) And 48% of e over 80's who have had both vaccinations claimed the same.

Thought older people were supposed to set a good example…

 

Thursday
Meanwhile a greater sense of community in the UK has been revealed in a survey by the National Lottery Community Fund. Canvassing more than 7,000 adults this found that 77% claim their behaviour will change as a result of the pandemic, with 40% intending to focus more on simple pleasures, and 33% focussing more on relationships with friends and family.

Respondents also flagged up the benefits of being part of a community, such as helping each other, a sense of connection with others and a reduction in the sense of isolation.

 

Friday
Hooray for Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary healthcare sciences at the University of Oxford, who has advised what a danger there is to pedestrians in being passed closely by "panting joggers" on pavements not wearing face masks.

Apparently if they have the coronavirus, with or without symptoms, they can be infecting everyone unfortunate enough to be caught in their slipstream, including vulnerable elderly who may not hear them coming up behind, and anyway may be too infirm to quickly move out of danger. And given that joggers invariably jog on our pavements is it fair of them to expect others to get out of their way, perhaps taking a risky step into the road to do so?

FOODIE NEWS

o Those organising catering for their delegates will be interested to hear that the once-hated Brussels sprout has been continuing to rise in popularity with diners and is now, according to recent surveys, one of the UK's most popular green vegetables, nudging broccoli for the top green spot.

One survey last October by Waitrose, with 2,000 respondents, had 26% naming sprouts as their top greens, and 25% opting for broccoli. For organisers choosing menus the survey also found a useful gender bias, with men more likely to love the sprouts and women the broccoli. Another survey of 2,000 adults, conducted this year by nutritional supplement firm FutureYou Cambridge, found that the "most rated" greens were , in descending order, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cabbage, and the "most hated" list was topped by Swiss chard, followed by watercress, pak choi, kale and lettuce.

Apparently the country with the largest production of sprouts in Continental Europe is the Netherlands and it is here that the better-tasting sprouts that have resulted in the increase in popularity were developed in the 1990s by Dutch scientist Hans van Doorn. He identified the chemicals that made the sprouts grown then taste unpleasantly bitter so that Dutch seed companies could breed the low-bitterness varieties that we enjoy far more today.

 

o Supermarkets and small independent food shops alike are beneficiaries of a lockdown surge in food buying for millions who now have to cook at home. The increase is estimated at a healthy £15billion, or £500 extra per household. Trading up in quality seems to be a major factor, though the worsening obesity crisis due to lockdown could indicate a trading up in quantity too.

 

o One of the best parts about writing and editing this newsletter has been attendance at various food and drink exhibitions and sampling and bringing home items to taste and write about. All this stopped abruptly with the lockdowns, as did visits to review restaurants, so it was good to note that Speciality Food magazine now offers us journalists complimentary items from their advertisers sent directly to us, to sample and write about. As a result a confectionery firm in Devon called Bristows, which has been making sweet, creamy fudge since 1922 sent us three different samples to try. We took on four other tasters for this and the results, with scores out of 50 total follow below.

Chocolate Brownie, 26. Two tasters, real dark chocolate fans, said they wanted more chocolate flavour. Another named this as her favourite.

Clotted Cream, 29. The highest score and the favourite of three tasters. One liked the "pleasant and moreish powderyness".

Salted Caramel, 21. The lowest score, the least favourite of all tasters, except the writer, who loves anything salted caramel flavour. "Too salty" for two tasters.

Thanks to Bristows, and tasters, Aaran, Colin, Hazel, Pauline, Peter.

NEXT ISSUE

The law clamps down on organisers of demonstrations and protests, making them fully accountable for the cost of policing, and of any damage or injury caused by their protesters… The Home Office explain that Britons being defrauded of billions is not really their problem… State Governors in the USA reveal how many votes are placed by the business sector, whether or not bribes have been offered to lift Covid restrictions, whether or not they have accepted them and how many extra people are estimated to die from the early lifting of restrictions… An over 80 comments "As a part of the vulnerable sector of society I am happy for younger people to take sensible precautions, so that I don't have to. Now if you'll excuse me I'm getting trolleyed and going out clubbing"... and much, much more…

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