Quangos on display at garden show

Just picture the scene; you’ve decided to visit BBC Gardeners World Live on a lovely sunny day in June. People mill around admiring gardens, asking experts for advice, purchasing bulbs and shrubs. You can’t quite decide which exhibit you’d like to visit next –  Apuldram Roses? Dibleys Nurseries? Hooksgreen Herbs? The Cottage Garden Society?

Oh, scratch all those! Why not visit the Highways Agency’s impossibly large pitch and pick up some information on...roads?

No? Well, what about Gwynedd Council then? Surely you don’t want to come all the way to Birmingham without genning up on this Welsh local authority?

If not then you must want to come and take a look at one of National Savings & Investment’s two exhibits? Just imagine how wildly different, and in-keeping with the theme of the exhibition they’ll be.

This agony of choice was not ours, but that of a TPA supporter who was appalled to spot a few of the flashy public sector stalls at yesterday’s show. He took these photographs and sent them over to us to illustrate the scale and obvious cost of these displays.

Just why are taxpayers shelling out thousands during a very difficult time for these bodies to spend a fortune sending a few staff on a jolly to a gardening show? The Highways Agency even has a page on the event’s website! Their basic message is, “if you want to know what the traffic is like and the best time to travel, we have a website”. They’re clearly forgetting that a) many people can’t avoid what time they travel – especially if they’re headed for a specific event, b) increasing numbers of people now have sat-nav which will divert their route around a traffic jam and c) everyone knows that leaving earlier will generally get you there sooner.

It’d be interesting to know just how much interest and how many enquiries this, or indeed any of these stands actually attracted, and then check that against how much they spent on travel, accommodation, meals and subsistence for staff, freebies/giveaways for the public, having the exhibition stand itself designed, manufactured, transported and erected, and any other costs incurred.

It’s high time such frills were trimmed. If these same bodies take themselves to The Ideal Home Show, the Good Food Show and any other similar events through the rest of the year then this is a very expensive hobby.


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