The visitor conundrum

Suppose you were the director of an organisation that was responsible for bringing tourism into a county and promoting the facilities and amenities in there, wouldn’t you think that the organisation was failing if it couldn’t advertise the DLI enough to get more than 39,000 visitors through the doors? Now, suppose that, as well as being the director of this organisation, you were also on the cabinet that effectively said “sod it, we can’t get the visitors in so let’s shut it”, then wouldn’t you think this was a double failure? Wouldn’t you be asking questions about whether the organisation was actually up to the job? Surely you’d want to know why it had failed, and why you hadn’t done anything about it beforehand? Doesn’t this make you a failure in this role? Shouldn’t you resign because you let this organisation fail? After all, you are a director.

Funnily enough, I’m raising this because this because Councillor Foster (the person you’ll hear talking about the closure in press releases and on the news) is both a director of VisitCountyDurham and also voted as part of the cabinet to close the DLI.

Now, I have just listened to Cllr Foster talking on BBC Radio Newcastle about the closure in a piece where he was rebutting comments from the Save The DLI Museum group. I’d like to address some of his comments in this interview:

“That’s not a figure we’ve said, that’s a figure they’ve aimed for”

I’m sorry Neil (we may call you Neil after all, apparently we’ve met with you so many times – this did come as a surprise to the committee as we’ve never spoken face to face with you), but this is the figure discussed by your chosen council representative, Stephen Howells, with John, Steve and myself (representing the committee). I hate to tell you, but we kept the email correspondence where this figure was confirmed – we’ll happily publish it if you like.

Now, in the piece, you state that there are other considerations we haven’t taken into account about the costs; having discounted the staffing costs, you then state there’s the energy costs – sorry to be the bearer of bad news for you but these aren’t new costs; they are part and parcel of the running costs presented to us. It’s not, it’s 300K INCLUDING the costs. Next time, we can talk about the idea that the lease on the old Rothman’s factory will apparently run out before your 5 year plan for the storage completes, leaving the fate of the exhibits up in limbo. Or we can talk about how multiple departments are supposedly competing for space in this same location (for those who aren’t aware, this factory is the location of the “state of the art” storage facility). Or, perhaps, you’d like us to discuss the plans for the Aykley Heads business park extend to cover the current DLI museum. That’s the beauty about councils – dig deeply enough and you can find all sorts of interesting, official, council produced and sanctioned documents.