Snipe - The Scoop

Monday, 23 August 2010

Boris Johnson's State of London gives less for more

Boris Johnson's attempts to get "more for less" out of the State of London debate actually resulted in him getting "less for more"

The annual debate held between the Mayor and Londoners regularly attracts thousands of attendees but changes to the format and promotion this year lead to just 231 turning up .

Up to 18% of these were employees or guests of the GLA.

In order to save costs the Mayor moved the event into City Hall, and shortened debating time.

However, the cost of the event actually increased this year to £58,000, whilst the cost per attendee increased many times over to £250.

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Dee Doocey who opened the event, said today:

"It is absolutely shocking that it cost a staggering £250 for everyone who attended this year's State of London debate.

"To spend a third more than last year on organising this event, but to only get one seventh the number of people attending, is incompetence of the highest order."

More than 800 tickets were issued but only around a quarter actually bothered to attend.

However a report on the debate drawn up by City Hall points out that many more people watched the debate online and claims that:

"12,380 individual people sent out two or more tweets on Twitter in response to the debate."

Which seems a hugely suspect statistic to anyone who actually followed the Twitter streams as I did.

Especially as two of the search terms used to draw up the report ("Stld" and "State of London") both return reams of irrelevant tweets:


The 12,380 claim comes from the Tweetreach website. I don't know how they drew it up.

The report also fails to mention the decision to move the event to a weekday as a contributing factor to the poor attendance.

However it does blame it on:

"other influences ie sunny weather, world cup and Wimbledon"

Sunny weather and Wimbledon during summer! Who could have guessed?

12 comments:

Helen said...

Surely the measure of success for this year's State of London is: were *more* members of the public able to ask questions (and get answers) of the Mayor and the heads of the other GLA bodies; as people such as TfL's Peter Hendy are no longer available for questioning by the public since Boris Johnson became Mayor, the latter no longer applies, greatly reducing accountability.

The ground floor of the Chamber at City Hall was out of bounds to ordinary members of the public and was filled with the Mayor's Peer Outreach Team (*not* ordinary members of the public, but employees of the Mayor) and they asked at least three questions - were the questions given to them and why were they even being allowed to take up public time with them?

AdamB said...

Indeed. I suspect Boris would happily do away with the whole thing but as it's a statutory event the best he can do is reduce it to a rump and make it as stage managed as possible.

Helen said...

12,380 people tweeted? Garbage. The tweets were coming up live on a screen in the City Hall Chamber and it was a handful of people.

AdamB said...

Yes it did seem like only a handful. In fact if you go to the State of London site now the Twitterfall is still active and is currently displaying loads of tweets aout Oona King!

James said...

The pre-publicity actively discouraged people from signing up to attend in person by describing it as an online event.

And if you did try to enter the ballot for tickets, you had to reserve two tickets at a time, which may account for some of the no-shows.

The Mayor deserves to get a lot of stick for the way the event was handled.

Helen said...

"The pre-publicity actively discouraged people from signing up to attend in person by describing it as an online event."

That's right - the most prominent word on the publicity posters at Tube stations was "ONLINE".

The tickets only coming in pairs was ridiculous, I expect it was so they could claim double the number of people had applied for tickets.

Also, you couldn't just turn up without a ticket as you could have done when Ken Livingstone was Mayor - doubly stupid when the Chamber and other discussion rooms were mostly empty.

Tom said...

""other influences ie sunny weather, world cup and Wimbledon""

Indeed, I only made it because we found a babysitter to take Alf on - other half was at, er, Wimbledon (plus having fairly flexible hours helps). Also having it at rush hour on a hot weekday in Central London meant a journey in that would put off many elderly or infirm Londoners or those with young children, resulting in an audience consisting of bloggers, monomaniacs and Einy Shah-a-likes. Not very diverse. Between the monomaniacs and the MPOT there weren't a lot of questions, but at least I got my bus one in.

The two-tickets-per-person thing was daft too, I gave my spare to Jason 'onionbagblogger' Cobb, who wouldn't have come otherwise. Recipe for empty seats, which is exactly what happened.

Anonymous said...

I think this is an unfair analysis. It was a thoroughly well run event and you're not taking in to account the people in the other committee rooms.

I think it's highly unlikely the MPOT were given staged questions, they are clever enough to come up with their own!

AdamB said...

"I think this is an unfair analysis. It was a thoroughly well run event and you're not taking in to account the people in the other committee rooms."

Er, I'm quoting the Mayor's own figures for total attendants. It's not split by rooms.

"I think it's highly unlikely the MPOT were given staged questions, they are clever enough to come up with their own!"

Are they all clever enough to stay anonymous whilst commenting on blogs?

Anonymous said...

Adam, just to be clear - I'm not a member of the Mayor's Peer Outreach Team.

Helen said...

Rush hour on a weekday, of course, also meant that commuters couldn't have watched it online as they were...er...commuting.

AdamB said...

That must be a relief.