Portas funding ‘wasted’ on Lowry display

LS Lowry painting of Bridge Street, Berwick

LS Lowry painting of Bridge Street, Berwick

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A decision to spend £23,000 Portas money on promoting

L S Lowry’s links with Berwick has been criticised by the author of the winning bid.

Andrew Marshall believes the money should have been used for the benefit of the town centre to tie in with the original Portas aim of regenerating high streets.

He also aired fresh concerns about the accountability of the tourism forum, set up as a sub-group of Berwick Town Council’s environment and regeneration committee to take a strategic view on tourism.

“The tourism forum, which as far as I can tell has a nondescript membership, was used as an assenting body to agree Portas expenditure.

“I’m particularly concerned that £23,000 was given to the Lowry trail and for advertising the upcoming exhibition.

“I don’t think that is an appropriate spend of Portas money. That amount of funding could have got so much done for Berwick as a destination in itself rather than promoting a one-off exhibition which I think is of very dubious benefit to the town.”

Mr Marshall, who has a background in marketing, added: “It seems to me that there is almost no-one on the tourism forum with any marketing experience and yet £10,000 has been given to either Northumberland Tourism or Berwick Town Council, almost all of it for advertising. Furthermore, another £8,000 has been used for more advertising in places such as the Metro Centre.”

He also questioned the role of town clerk Sue Finch who sits on both the tourism forum and the PR and marketing committee of Northumberland Tourism.

Coun John Robertson insisted the tourism forum had not taken funding decisions.

The council will look at the forum’s terms of reference.

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