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.

3 thoughts on “The visitor conundrum

  1. Durham has a much greater problem than the DLI Museum – the DLI issue is just the most emotive and heart rendering of all (so far). Durham’s problem is one of dishonesty and bullying. It originates from them importing Simon Henig from Lancashire, whose old mates are now closing every single museum in Lancashire and most Libraries. The system operates on bullying within Labour (Foster and the rest of the Cabinet are terrified of Henig and in turn the Cabinet Members have local Councillors frightened.
    It is standard Labour practice to destroy or remove facilities and services when they are in opposition as an attempt to have the electorate dislike the ruling Government.
    There are numerous matters in County Durham which when all the facts are added together portray a picture of deceit which is compounded with contempt for the Electorate.
    Notably the Chair of the DLI Trustees has been observed defending the decision (as was the case at Spennymoor). It is the same picture – a more emotive issue but teams should join forces to address this county wide problem.

  2. My family is probably representative of others right across the old county boundary of Durham, in that my father served with the DLI during the Cyprus troubles and my great-uncle was killed serving with the 14th Bn DLI at the Battle of Loos, so I too am inclined to agree that the DLI Museum situation is the most emotive issue related to recent decisions made by Durham County Council (DCC).

    I also served 14 years or so in the Royal Air Force.

    My worry is that aiming at only one target, that of DCC, might mean missing the other target that is the Trustees of the DLI Museum.

    Like other servicemen and ex-servicemen, I would naturally believe the rank structure was there not only to keep order, but as a firm backdrop of experience that not only had my best interests at heart, but those of the wider unit and armed forces in general.

    Does the campaign have any such firm belief or guarantee that all the Trustees of the DLI Museum agreed with the museum closure and what process was taken to reach this conclusion?

    There does not seem to have been any attempt by DCC or the Trustees to:
    1. Raise the profile of the DLI Museum as a going concern
    2. Raise the situation with the wider public and ask for assistance
    3. Look at other revenue alternatives to sustain the museum
    4. Create a new and updated group of Friends of the DLI Museum using specific revenue raising powers
    5. Look at alternative long term venues

    As someone that always believed in the rank structure as described above, I’m therefore loathe to put this point, but I really believe the Trustees of the DLI Museum need some heat brought to bear on them.

    Would the Trustees meet with the Save the DLI Museum campaign? Perhaps organise the DLI Associations to send as many representatives, plus concerned members of the public, DCC Councillors that are wanting to help and meet with the Trustees at a large venue and hold them to account to explain their position and decision making process?

    You can only save people that seem to want to be saved and looking from the sidelines, the Trustees have left a perception that they either don’t wish to be saved, or have merely accepted the best of a bad job.

    Best wishes for the campaign.

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