If you aren’t too keen on the idea of living in a ‘new town’ like Redditch, chances are you don’t. What might further put you off is the idea of Redditch Council spending your hard-earned tax money on an advertising campaign preaching to residents about how great the place is.
Redditch may not be one of the glamour spots of the world, or even of the West Midlands, but locals seem to be contented by the place and like anywhere, most dwell there due to family or job commitments. With Birmingham, Worcester and historic Stratford-Upon-Avon within a stone’s throw, there are certainly much worse places to be based and the WMTPA certainly aren’t aware of any sort of mass exodus from the area. So why do the local authority want to tell the people who already live there that it’s...well...nice to live there? Something you’d assume they know.
According to the BBC News website, the ‘It’s my place’ campaign will run adverts in local papers as well as posters and banners alongside all the Facebook/Twitter/web fanfare that’s become the norm now. The one pictured with the article reads “More trees than Sherwood Forest” which will remind Midlanders of the old claim about Birmingham having more canals than Venice. Both, obviously, miss the fact that both Sherwood Forest and Venice are attractions for many other reasons than their basic attributes. No-one visits Sherwood Forest for its tree density or quantity, but because it’s a lovely place that’s tied up in English mythology. Similarly, Venice with all its canals would be nothing without its art, architecture and history. The comparisons are meaningless. What’s next; “Baghdad – warmer than Magaluf”?
Much is made of the fact that the Channel 4 programme ‘The Word’ once called Redditch “the most boring place in the known universe”, but that must’ve been almost 20years ago now and people would’ve forgotten long ago without this campaign to remind them. The council website speaks out about fighting ‘unjust perceptions’ of the town (and you have to wonder whether they’ve gone looking for criticism!) but surely they should be turning the other cheek and saying, who cares?
Let’s face it, the place is never going to be a tourist attraction or a holiday destination, but those who visit it will discover that actually, it’s a pretty nice place. And as for the residents – the ones this campaign is aimed at – well, they’ve chosen to live there already know it has its charms. It’s difficult to see what value the efforts of those involved with this publicity will actually add.
If the council want to keep locals happy, then surely their best bet would be to concentrate on delivering decent services and avoiding the temptation to throw taxpayers’ money at needless promotions?