I’ve no more idea than the next person what the Big Society is but there may be a hint of it in this Big Tent. The tent has been the home for the last few days of the Best of Lakeland Show, put on by the Lakes Hospitality Association. It’s a trade show for hoteliers, restaurateurs and the like and has attracted hundreds of visitors. It’s in a new venue, right in the heart of Bowness. I went round all the trade stands this morning, speaking to the exhibitors and they all spoke enthusiastically about the success of the show. Last night there was a highly successful dinner for 100.
The reason that I mention the Big Society is that this event has been organised by just one part-timer, Gail Bartolf and her part-time assistant Rebecca. They have sourced the new venue, got the council’s consent, obtained planning permission from the National Park Authority, organised power, catering, toilets, stewards, car parking, signage, the dinner, advertising, sold the stands, etc., etc.,. They are the only employees of the LHA and have carried out all their other duties for its 550 members at the same time as organising the show.
If this had been a public body, relying on public funds, I’ve no doubt at all that the same work would have required at least a dozen full timers on vast salaries. Those salaries would have been paid for by you and me. If this is the Big Society, let’s have more of it.